20th Century British & Contemporary Art
Castlegate House Gallery

Edward Hughes

Biography

Born in Wallasey in 1953, Edward was to become one of the most talented of UK studio potters.

Studying firstly at Cardiff School of Art, and thence the Bath Academy at Corsham Court, Edward was to follow up with a period working with the legendary Ray Finch at Winchcombe Pottery, in Gloucestershire.

Obtaining a Japanese government scholarship in the late 1970s, Edward was to spend almost two years at art school in Kyoto, learning and absorbing an oriental approach to the art of pottery-making that mirrored the inspiration of the likes of Bernard Leach in the early part of the twentieth century. In 1979, Edward held his first solo exhibition, in Japan. The success of this show enabled Edward and his young Japanese wife, Shizuko, to set up home and studio in rural Kyoto. Here Edward continued to experiment with his art, continuing in the Japanese tradition which had decades before been the inspiration for the emergence of what became known as British Studio Pottery.

For five years Edward held successful shows in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, but the pull of his native country drew him and Shizuko back to the UK in 1984, setting up home and studio in Cumbria. Continuing to change and perfect his art, a majority of Edward’s work continued to be sold in Japan. Here, the practicality of his pots was celebrated; they were relatively expensive items to be prized but importantly, used. In the UK, his pots were seen as more pieces to collect and be looked at rather than have a practical function; a very different ethos to the Japanese market he was so successful in. Successful UK exhibitions did, however, follow, with notably the V&A purchasing a number of his pieces.

Edward saw value and merit in all his pots, from utilitarian cups and dishes, to the most exquisite platters and boxes. This value place on the usual, the everyday, was no doubt a product of his time in Japan. What can’t be argued is that Edward’s work displays a quality of form and glaze that truly set him apart from many studio potters of his generation, and why his work is highly prized both in the UK and Japan, today.

Edward tragically died in a mountaineering accident in 2006, aged just 52. We are proud to be working with his family in bringing previously unseen work to collectors, old and new.