Shoji Hamada (1894-1978) remains for many the leading studio potter of the 20th century, a charismatic artist whose prodigious energy and natural ease as a thrower and decorator did most to bring the established language of Japanese form and glazing into the modern age. With Bernard Leach he helped to consolidate a new studio pottery movement in the West, his early work at the Leach Pottery in St Ives part of this catalyst. With Leach and Cardew he also generated interest in early English slipware, returning to Japan in 1923 and setting up a studio in Mashiko eight years later. Here he remained until his death. Hamada developed a particularly fluent stoneware with incised, painted and poured decoration that was both generous and economic, work that gave the materials used a new prominence of their own.

David Whiting