'Rupert and his poem bowls: a man at the peak of his physical abilities producing forms whose power and beauty lie in the synthesis of a lifetimes’s experience with a perfected technique. He has himself been forged and transformed like a pot in a kiln.
Caroline Seymour, March 2015
Rupert Spira is among the finest ceramists of his generation, known for elegant tableware, undulating open bowls, groupings of slender cylinder vessels and unique poem bowls. His work is simple and strong in form, quiet and restrained in character. His glazes range from matt titanium white to vivid Chun blue and rich copper red.
His first brush with studio pottery was a Michael Cardew exhibition in 1975. He later recalled, ‘Cardew’s pots had a raw, vital, organic quality I’d never seen before. What struck me was their potency, their capacity to communicate’. He went on to train under Cardew for two years before setting up his own studio and establishing his own distinctive style, but the desire to communicate remained central to his work.
In the late 1990s Spira began to introduce workds to his ceramics - poetry, often his own - painstakingly incised or embossed. At times the words are indistinct, their meaning elusive; elsewhere they are clear and precise. They add a different dimension to your reading of the pots and have a serene, almost meditative quality.
Spira was active as a potter for more than 30 years, during which time he achieved international renown. His work can be found in private and public collections throughout the world, including the V&A, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.
Lindsey Brown, 2015
A group of work by Rupert Spira is featured in our exhibition Blue & White available to view online and by appointment until 5 September.