A stoneware bowl by ceramic artist Jan Howorth is the second object we’re focusing on in this Countdown to the Backspace Forward application deadline, May 16, 2014.
Howarth was an active potter in the 1980s and 1990s in Manitoba. Working out of the Stoneware Gallery, she worked exclusively on the wheel, and her pieces are often unglazed. This bowl was purchased in 1998 by the MCML volunteers in memory of Margaret Gaunt, volunteer curator of the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library collection from the early 1990s to 1997.
The first thing that struck me about this piece when viewing it in person was its size – at least 18 inches in diameter. The dark clay and image angle gave me the impression of a very solid and heavy piece, so I was surprised to find it remarkably light when I picked it up. The whole piece slopes in towards the centre bowl and is very delicately and beautifully patterned, an effect I imagine would have been challenging to achieve given the wide, thin brim.
I was immediately drawn to this piece when we went through the MCML collection in preparation for this show – its simple, bold form, its raw, earthy surface contrasting with delicate, decorative lines. It possesses a timeless quality that makes it hard to date, easy to love over a long period – a classic. And most importantly for this exhibition, we hope it can be an object that inspires makers today.