James Tower (1919 -1988) made powerful pots: bowls, dishes and large vessels of flattened form with strong lyrical qualities of decoration. He was one of the few potters to have been taken up by the fine art world, his work being essentially regarded as sculpture. His most typical pieces, executed in monochrome tin-glaze with abstract resist marking across their surfaces, are amongst the most individual and distinctive  of the post-war period. Free in his drawing, Tower took much of his inspiration from the Kent estuaries, born as he was on the the Isle-of-Sheppey. It was a landscape that stayed with him, his impressive series of press-moulded vessels a kind of meditative hymn to these remote watery places. Tower studied painting at the Royal Academy, and clay at the London Institute, emerging as one of the leading avant grade potters of the 1950s. Influenced particularly by Picasso and the British slipware tradition, Tower helped to introduce a new non-oriental spirit in clay. He taught the discipline at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham for many years, before becoming head of Fine Art at Brighton School of Art in 1966. He worked in other materials before returning to clay in the last decade of his life, his art helping to free the medium from its purely functional role.

David Whiting