Jillian Echlin, Phd Researcher
The contemporary potters of Iran: cultural exchange and developments in modern and post-modern ceramic practice
How do we understand and define contemporary ceramics practice in Iran? How are Iranian potters engaging with international trends in the ceramic arts? What are some of the historical, political, social, religious, and artistic contexts influencing Iranian ceramics today, and how can we critically evaluate our responses to such works?
The ceramics heritage of Cornwall, to which the Leach Pottery is central, has played a large part in shaping international movements in the ceramics arts, particularly in defining the ways modern ceramic artists relate to the changing role of pottery in an industrialized world. In the decades prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Mohammad Medhi Anoushfar, today one of Iran’s most respected potters and professors, worked in Greece and on the Cornish coast before eventually returning to teach in Tehran. His interest in international ceramic dialogues and advocacy for the studio potter meant that this exchange was deeply influential in developing the cultural status of clay as an artistic medium in Iran. Iranian ceramic practice was also particularly influential to modern British studio potters, including Alan Caiger-Smith, Philip Leach, and Ian Auld.
This ongoing research traces the development of ceramics practice within Iran, where a dynamic clay scene is supported by national biennials, engagement with international trends, and its own published materials. Alongside the emergence of ceramics as a medium for exploring new artistic expressions, there has been a parallel tradition of potters working with inherited techniques and forms who are engaging with many of the same questions that underpin the relationship of the British studio pottery movement to its historical roots. One of the goals of this work is to support international collaboration and intercultural understanding through conversations about ceramics, as well as recognize the work of Iranian researchers and makers and their unique responses to modern craft culture.
Outside one of the many designated heritage traditional pottery studios of Lalejin