clive bowen

wood-fired earthenware


Clive Bowen was born in Cardiff in 1943.  He studied painting and etching at Cardiff Art School before taking up an apprenticeship with Michael Leach at Yelland Pottery in North Devon from 1965 until 1969.  He then spent a year as a production thrower at CH Brannam Ltd.


In 1971 he bought a small agricultural property at Shebbear, near Holsworthy in North Devon and set up a workshop in the former farm outhouses.  He built his first wood-fired kiln, a catenary arch kiln with a capacity of 30 cu.ft.  In 1976 he built a much larger, double-chambered kiln with a total capacity of over 400 cu.ft. which is used for most of today’s production.  The kiln can hold up to 1000 pots and may take five days to pack in preparation for a 30 hour firing.  During the firing the kiln is stoked continuously with wood from local sawmills until a temperature of 1060 degrees Centigrade is reached.  The kiln is then sealed and cooled for four more days before the pots are unpacked.


The pots are made in the local Fremington clay, a red earthenware clay in use for centuries for traditional North Devon wares.  They are almost all wheel thrown with the exception of a few hand-pressed dishes.  The pots are decorated by a variety of methods; slip-trailing, using different coloured liquid clays, combing and sgraffito. Most of the work is raw glazed, i.e. the glaze is applied to the decorated pots without a preliminary biscuit firing.  The combination of the simple materials and the smoke and flame of the wood firing impart a great richness and depth to the finished pots.



Public Collections


Victoria and Albert Museum

National Museum of Wales

Ulster Museum

Crafts Council Collection

York City Art Gallery

Exeter Museum

Nottingham Museum

Liverpool Museum

Stoke on Trent City Museum

Winnipeg Art Gallery, Canada

Mingeikan, Tokyo

Mashiko Museum of Ceramics, Japan

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge



Selected Exhibitions


1991            Solo Exhibition – Contemporary Applied Arts – London

British Council Tour – India and Malaysia

1993      Form and Function – Contemporary Applied Arts

1994      Clive Bowen and Michael Rothenstein – Oxford Gallery

Solo Exhibition – Contemporary Ceramics – London

1996      Solo Showcase - Tate Gallery – St Ives

Objects of Our Time – Crafts Council – London

Solo Exhibition – The Harley Gallery

1997      Time for Tea – British Council – South America

Solo Exhibition – Dartington, Devon

European Slipware – Tegelen – Netherlands

1998      20th Century Studio Ceramics – Israel

A View of Clay – Contemporary Applied Arts

1999      Still Life – Contemporary Applied Arts

Solo Exhibition – Oxford Gallery

History and Invention – Australia  (Contemporary Ceramics)

2000      Contemporary Ceramics – British Council – Brazil

British Contemporary Ceramics – Denmark

2001      The Snake in the Garden – Aberystwyth and Touring

2002      Solo Exhibition – Galerie Besson, London

2003      Solo Exhibition – Rufford Crafts Centre,

Solo Exhibition – Ombersley Gallery, Worcs.

2004  Solo Exhibition – Beardsmore Gallery, London

          Table Manners – Crafts Council Gallery, London

          Solo Showcase – Contemporary Applied Arts, London

2005  Functional Form Now – Galerie Besson, London

2006  Collecting Contemporary Ceramics – Ruthin, Denbigh,

          Solo Exhibition – Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham         

          Solo Exhibition – Contemporary Ceramics, London

2007           Demonstrator - International Ceramics Festival, Aberystwyth

The Pot, the Vessel and the Object, 50 Years of Change and Diversity in the Craft Potters Association - Aberystwyth and touring

A Celebration of Slipware – Long Room Gallery, Winchcombe

Joint Exhibition with Kouichi Uchida - Gallery St Ives, Tokyo, Japan

2008           Solo Exhibition – The Octagon, Whichford Pottery, Warwickshire

2008/09 Solo Showcase – Mashiko Museum of Ceramics, Japan

2009           Joint exhibition with Masaaki Shibata -  Gallery St Ives, Tokyo and Shikama Fine Art Kyoto

Solo Exhibition- Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham

     2010  Solo Exhibition – The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh



Selected Articles/Publications


Emmanuel Cooper, Beginning to Lose Your Tail, CERAMIC REVIEW, Sept/Oct 1991

Alison Britton, Clive Bowen Exhibition Notes, Contemporary Applied Arts 1991

Eileen Lewenstein, CRAFTS, Jan Feb 1992

Paul Vincent, STUDIO POTTERY, June /July1993

Anne Boston, The Master Potter, COUNTRY LIVING, November1996

Alan Powers, Still Small Voice, CRAFTS, July/August 1997

David Whiting, Sources of Inspiration: Clive Bowen, CRAFTS, Jan/Feb 2002

The Beauty of Craft, Resurgence Craft Anthology




His work is full of confident energy- he has the expansive gesture that this (slip)ware demands, not the timid attention to detail that it often receives.  Dr Oliver Watson, Curator of Ceramics at the V&A in the catalogue of the Museum’s Collection.


His work…combines a thrilling sense of form with simplicity of decoration. His boldly thrown pots burst with life… Emmanuel Cooper, Pottery in the Making Ed.Freestone and Gaimster




The Great Picture Chase – with Kate Adie – choosing ceramics for the BBC collection