Studio: international art — 90.1925

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(Fine Art Society, Ltd.)

HAM, a a a 0 0 a

THE shifting of interest away from the
" fine " arts towards the so-called
" applied " arts is one of the significant
features of the post-war period in England,
and nowhere are its effects more readily
seen than in pottery. Several artists
have began to find in clay as a material
and the kiln as an auxiliary -agent a sym-
pathetic means of self-expression. Among
these artist potters is Mr. Reginald F.
Wells, whose earliest efforts in this direc-
tion were indeed made before the war.
During the many centuries of its history,
pottery has developed along manifold
lines, almost bewildering in their diversity,
with a tendency sometimes to stray into
the fields of other crafts. It is therefore
all to the good that such artists as Mr.
Wells should put themselves under a
certain austerity of restraint, basing their

work steadfastly on the essential qualities
of their material. 000a

Mr. Wells began as a sculptor, and
achieved success with several bronze
statuettes which were among the most
remarkable works of their time in this
kind. Later he turned his attention to
pottery, which in certain of its forms—
indeed, in its truest forms—may rightly
be classed as abstract sculpture. His first
experiments in this new venture were
made at Coldrum, near Wrotham, the
birthplace of those Kentish ** slip " wares
of the seventeenth century which, from
the point of view of faithfulness to the
principles of ceramic craftsmanship, are
among the best wares produced in England
since mediaeval times. A better environ-
ment for winning the right attitude of
mind for work in potter's clay could hardly
have been chosen. In 1910 Mr. Wells
moved to Chelsea, where he carried on his
kilns until the war called him to more
immediately useful occupations. It is
fortunate that he has seen his way to a
return to plastic art, though now in another
place, at Storrington in Sussex. a 0

His early training is seen strongly in his
work as a potter. The pressure of the
shaping hand on the yielding but outward-
thrusting clay as it whirls on the wheel,
shows itself clearly in all his productions.
It is, as it should be, by their shape, sen-
sitively recording the mood of the artist,
that his bowls and vases make their first
appeal. And in this connection it is of
course the mood of the artist which is all
important. From a small mind nothing
big can be looked for ; the large, masculine
quality of the wares which come from the
workshop at Storrington gives the measure
of the mind that controls it. They are
clearly of the same kindred as the bronze
Sower and Athlete which are among Mr.
Wells's most striking works as a sculptor.

But strength and beauty of form are not
the only values that can be realised in
pottery. Only second in importance is
colour, especially the colour obtainable in
the process of glazing. In this sphere the
Chinese have been the great masters, and
Mr. Wells has studied to some purpose
what they achieved. Not merely the
general tone of " self colour " glazes has
engaged his attention, but also the subtle

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