The Eccentric Teapot
by Garth Clark. Review by Steven Goldate.
Garth Clarks "The Eccentric Teapot, Four Hundred Years
of Innovation" takes a look at the more gregarious manifestations
of that humble but universal domestic appliance, the teapot. Far
from the simpler examples, as may e.g. be found in your average
Chinese restaurant (ever seen one with the lid attached with fishing
line?), this survey of teapots of the past four centuries covers
everything from Yixing pots to the Japanese Book of Tea, the Boston
Tea Party to the famous "Suprematist Teapot" by Kasemir
The teapot is not just a pot, but rather an ambassador of culture,
a form of expression, a carrier of ideology and beauty alike. Clarks
Brief History of Tea and The Rituals of Tea give us
an insight into the 4,000 year oriental history of tea and its more
recent embrace by occindental societies (17th C). The Japanese Tea
Ceremony is described in detail as are other "rituals"
of tea drinking.
Amidst the legends and traditions of tea are the more eccentric
examples of the pots made to hold the golden liquid. While Yixing
pots, Minton, Wedgwood and other examples from the annals of history
are depicted, the main focus is on innovative, if not outrageous
comtemporary teapots. Particular favorites of mine are the works
by US American Richard Notkin, whose Yixing style pots in the form
of an exploding atomic plant, a chain bound hostage or "Curbside
Teapot" are not only beautifully executed, but also form a
comic social commentary.
These vessels are truly forms of expression, as can be seen in
the works of Clarence Cliff, Jill Crowly, Roy Lichtenstein, Adrian
Sachs or Mattheo Thun, to name just a few of the better known artists
represented in this publication. Whether describing the Mad Hatters
or the Boston Tea Party, or the many outlandish teapot designs to
be found in this book, Clarks narration of fact and fiction is a
wonderful insight into the history and meaning of tea and will be
of interest to the tea drinker, the artist and the non-initiate
But beware, the teapot has its darker side too. As I sat down
to write these words, I promptly spillt my cup of c o f f e e over
book and table. That beveridge, obviously, the teapot book would
absolutely not tolerate -- and right it is.