Town mouse takes tea

The highlight of my week was visiting Enfield, on the northern outskirts of London. That’s where the potter Steve Harrison lives. He works in a studio built in the garden. Before going through to it, I was served, in a Harrison family ritual, tea and cake, which is appropriate because Steve makes cups, bowls and teapots. On July 13, he’ll mount a studio exhibition called ‘20 Teapots’. Each is part philosophy, part autobiography in clay.

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The seed of the idea was sown in art school. If only I had space to explain the ramifications! Instead, let’s fast-forward to a visit that Steve paid, 18 months ago, to the house of his former teacher, Tony Sims. There, he saw a slip-moulded teapot, of 18th-century shape, made as a prototype for Coalport that never went into production.

That teapot spoke to him-he had to have it. He made one like it on the wheel, but a turned teapot isn’t fluted, so Steve devised an ingenious new technique by which one could be. The result was like the original, but finer. He’s now made an edition of 20-azure, cream, brown, lustre, saltglaze, some with details in gold or silver leaf. Lucky is the purchaser of such a teapot: it won’t simply be tea that’s brewed in it, but a deeper attitude to life.

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