“It’s a spiritual place,” he shares in one of his videos, standing in the cavernous room with pots stacked all around him, “a place of fire and birth and creation.” It is a selection of these pieces, on loan from the Pucker Gallery in Boston, that will be on display in the Edwards Art Gallery at Holderness School in November and December.
Director of the Edwards Art Gallery Franz Nicolay reflects, “‘Mark Hewitt: Advancing Tradition’ is an exhibition of pottery steeped in the folk traditions of both England and the southeastern United States, yet Hewitt brings a contemporary aesthetic to the mix, both in terms of the combinations of forms he often joins together, and in the surface decorations he chooses to enhance those forms.”
As the son and grandson of two directors of Spode, a manufacturer of fine china, Mark was drawn early on to the craft of pottery. In his native England, he was an apprentice to potter Michael Cardew, and later in Connecticut to Todd Piker. In 1983, he moved to Pittsboro, NC with his wife, where he built his studio and the large wood kiln.
In addition to using local clays and glaze materials, Mark adds bits of colored glass to create magnificent pots ranging in size from over four feet to just a few inches.
“The time-honored wood-fired, salt-glazed methods he embraces bring an unpredictable, vital flair to the finished pieces,” explains Franz. “In addition, Hewitt’s colossal range of scale is distinctive in contemporary pottery.”
Hewitt was featured on the Origins episode of the PBS television series “Craft in America” in 2009, and with Nancy Sweezy, he co-curated and wrote an accompanying book for the 2005 exhibition The Potter’s Eye: Art and Tradition in North Carolina Pottery at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. He is the current president of the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove, and his works are included in numerous museum collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.
Hewitt’s dedication to the craft of pottery extends far beyond his own practice. As explained in a catalogue produced by the Pucker Gallery, “Mark’s approach to regionalism—his building of a culture of support for pottery with kiln openings, his connections with area academic institutions and museums, and his training of young apprentices—provides a model that has rippled out from Pittsboro, through
North Carolina and beyond.” In 2015 Hewitt received a grant for $50,000 from the United States Artists. While he used some money to repair his kiln, he also set aside some of the grant so that he could provide low-interest loans to his apprentices when they start their own practices.
Holderness School’s exhibit of Hewitt’s pottery opened to the public on Friday, November 3. The exhibit will close on Wednesday, December 13, and will also be closed during the school’s vacation from November 19-27.
Gallery hours: Monday, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 9 AM - 5 PM
Wednesday and Saturdays, 9 AM – Noon