Gordon Baldwin initially trained as a painter before studying ceramics at the Central School of Art, London, from 1951 to 1954. Baldwin’s work developed in the opposite direction to many of his contemporaries, gradually moving away from purely sculptural abstract forms to an exploration of the vessel.
Creating a rich variety of forms in series, from bowls to less obvious containers with openings, Baldwin never ‘decorates’ his work, the marks and colours he applies are integral to the form.  The design of this bowl looks like an abstract painting, although unlike a painting, we can only view the whole composition if we move around the bowl (as one would a sculpture), and follow the design by looking inside the form too.
The abstract composition is dispersed further by the different viewing planes it features on as part of the bowl’s form. There is a sense of movement in the energetic painterly design of the static clay form, but that design is part of the clay form itself, not additional decoration painted on top.
Around the mid-1970s Baldwin’s work turned from predominantly black to predominantly white and he began concentrating more on earthenware. He developed a slip which gave a dry white surface which he applied very thinly in many layers. The figurative elements and letters disappeared in favour of drawing or painting on the white surface.
Often pieces were reworked and refired several times. While Baldwin’s work gives the impression of random events – edges that look like torn cardboard, painted works that defy explanation – it is highly controlled.  The jagged edges emphasize the thinness of the clay body. This, together with the wide form and rounded base of the vessel, convey a lightness of form, so that the vessel appears to almost float upon the surface it rests on.
Katharine Malcolm, June 2021
 Paul Rice and Christopher Gowing, British Studio Ceramics in the 20th Century (London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd., 1989), pp. 140-141.
Jeffrey Jones, Studio Pottery in Britain 1900 – 2005 (London: A&C Black Publishers Ltd., 2007), pp. 144, 145, 147, 166.
Paul Rice and Christopher Gowing, British Studio Ceramics in the 20th Century (London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd., 1989), pp. 140-141.
Oliver Watson, British Studio Pottery (Oxford: Phaidon, 1990), pp. 30, 35, 40.
Not on display
Artist/Maker: Gordon Baldwin
Born: 1979 - 1986
Object Type: Bowl
Measurements: h. 235 x d. 335mm
Accession Number: 50531
Historic Period: 20th century
Copyright: © The Artist
Credit Line: Donated by a private donor
Gordon Baldwin interview (York Museums Trust)
Leading sculptural ceramicist Gordon Baldwin talks about his work in this film by Matthew Partington, Recording the Crafts, University of the West of England, Bristol.