Malcolm Davis is internationally recognized for his work with shino-type glazes. He works exclusively in porcelain with the goal of making fresh, spirited, graceful pots for daily use, searching for fluidity and clarity of form within the context of function. The style of his work and the nature of the forms are simple and fluid. In his search for glazes that would not compete with the form, but allow the pot to assert its own life and liveliness, he began to experiment with Shino glazes and developed a red Shino that bears his name and is loved, feared, revered and attempted by potters all over the world.
Malcolm Davis at MudFire
Malcolm Davis Artist Bio
Malcolm Davis has been a full-time studio potter since 1984 when he left his previous life as campus minister. He took his first ceramics class in 1974 and since 1985 has maintained his mountaintop studio in Upshur County, WV. He is internationally recognized for his work with shino-type glazes, specifically for the creation of a unique shino-type formula with a high concentration of soluble soda ash, which encourages the trapping of carbon in the early stages of the firing.
Malcolm Davis Artist Statement
I first touched clay at age 40 and knew immediately that I had been a potter all along. I love to make pots! For me, the joy and the challenge comes from making things that will become an intimate part of the daily lives of others - pots that will be held, eaten from, poured from, sipped from and perhaps even licked from. For me the making of pots is a way to celebrate the mundane rituals of daily life and to make them holy.
I work exclusively in porcelain. My goal is to make fresh, spirited, graceful pots for daily use, searching for fluidity and clarity of form within the context of function and striving for elegance rather than drama. My desire is to bring to life pots that are friendly and intimate, growing ever more personal with daily use.
The style of my work and the nature of the forms are simple and fluid. In my search for glazes that would not compete with the form, but allow the pot to assert its own life and liveliness, I began to experiment with Shino glazes and developed a red Shino that provided a lively surface for my work and did not distract from the subtleties of the forms. The appearance of Shino ceramics in the late 16th Century is one of the most significant events in the history of Japanese pottery. Shino Ware was first made during this period at the Mino kilns near Seto and began the trend away from imported and imitated Chinese and Korean wares toward the creation of wares distinctly Japanese in shape, glaze and decoration.
The primary characteristic of Shino is its color, introducing a depth and softness not found previously in either domestic or imported wares. Its warm surface, subtly varied in thickness, inspired a new sense of form in direct contrast to the refined, symmetrical perfection of Chinese wares. Where uneven in application, the citron-skin surface ranges from thick, milky white to orange or rust, and sometimes offers a rare red "fire color", highly valued by tea masters. The characteristic shapes of Shino ware, simple and rough, warped and distorted, make them expressions of delightful spontaneity and lively individuality.
My work is inspired by such folk traditions. Whether the early pots of the first century in Korea or the dung-fired pots of the original inhabitants of the Americas, pots were made to be used. These pots were often primitive and fragile, but always embodied a feeling of warmth and friendliness from their pure functional intent and the simple processes of their making. Through these ancient pots, the hands of their makers have reached down through centuries to communicate their spirit and their energy, their history and their hopes, a living inspiration to all those who see, touch and use them. These are the kinds of pots for which I strive. I seek not to imitate the forms nor the processes of their making, but to emulate the vigor and spontaneity in the making of lively utilitarian wares. Hopefully, my pots move out of a ceramic folk tradition to express my own individual nature and spirit, having energy and a life that passes from my hands to that of the user.