Crafts Study Centre - The University Museum of Modern Crafts

William Staite Murray

'Staite Murray pursued an expressly spiritual approach in the making of his own pots.'

William Staite Murray - p_74_42 William Staite Murray (b. 1881) was an influential and inimitable figure in British studio pottery between the wars. He came to ceramics later in life as family expectation kept him in Holland managing a tulip farm.  After military service in an administrative post during the Great War he resolved on a creative path and, by living within his wife's dress allowance, became a self-taught potter.  Staite Murray practised ceramics as an artist, making unique and often large pots, charging high prices, and giving them expressive titles such as Vortex and Morning Mist.  By the time he was appointed Head of the Ceramics Department at the Royal College of Art in 1925 he had an appreciative following and worked all year towards one stellar exhibition in the smart galleries of Bond Street.  He seems to have been initially inspired by the pottery wares of the Japanese tea ceremony and their combination of aesthetics with meditation. Staite Murray pursued an expressly spiritual approach in the making of his own pots.  He became a practising Buddhist and studied Zen philosophy and, through such ideas, found transcendent significance in the physical acts of throwing and decorating pottery.  For Staite Murray his profound emotional involvement in the whole process of crafting pots was what imbued the works with individual expression; this was also their claim to art.

References

-Haslam, M. 1997, 'William Staite Murray' in M. Coatts (ed.) Pioneers of modern craft, Manchester University Press, Manchester, pp.48-60

-Rose, M. 1955, The artist-potter in England, London

-Webber,J. 1975 'William Staite Murray' Crafts, May/June, pp.25-33