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Black Vessel: C.3-1999

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Black Vessel


Production: Roberts, David (b.1947)




Hand-built, raku-fired vessel. Of elongated oval plan with curved slides, rising higher at one end than the other, so that the rim slopes downwards in a gentle curve on one side then then slightly upwards on the other. The exterior is very dark grey, the surface decorated with evenly spaced eroded lines which echo the curvature of the rim, giving the illusion of an inverted V-shap on each side. The interior has a rough off-white surface marked with crack-like grey lines and dark grey spots formed by the raku process. The underside is rounded with the surface colour and pattern continuing underneath.


History note: Purchased by the donors at Hart Gallery, 113 Upper Islington, London, N1 1QN

Legal notes

Gift of Nicholas and Judith Goodison through the National Art Collections Fund.

Measurements and weight

Height: 28.5 cm
Length: 35 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Holmfirth ⪼ West Yorkshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1999-01-18) by Goodison, Nicholas and Judith


20th Century, Late#
Elizabeth II
Production date: AD 1998


David Roberts (b.1947) has an international reputation as a leading practitioner in raku ceramics. He became a full-time potter in 1981, following a decade as an art teacher, and now lives and works at Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. His large vessels are coil built, generally using a clay mix of 'T' material and porcelain. He abandoned glazing in the early 1990s and creates his surface effects through smoke generated by the raku firing process, aided by slips and resists.

Text from object entry in A. Game (2016) ‘Contemporary British Crafts: The Goodison Gift to the Fitzwilliam Museum’. London: Philip Wilson Publishers: This second work by David Roberts shows the artist’s growing interest in creating rock-like striations or textures on the surface of his vessels through carving into the surfaces prior to firing. Roberts’ increasing response to land forms in his work is explored in art historian Lynne Green’s 2000 monograph Painting with Smoke: David Roberts – Raku Potter, which was reissued in 2009.

This is one of a series of vessels in which Roberts explores ‘the many colours I believe to be found in BLACK’ and how shapes and surface can represent and echo the movement and pattern of water as it waves, ripples and eddies. The external lines are formed by eroding strips of the clay with water, at the bone-dry stage. This causes a different take-up of smoke in the raku process, resulting in the two-tone effect. Roberts is widely acknowledged as responsible for introducing modern large-scale raku in Europe.

School or Style

Contemporary Craft
Studio Ceramics

Components of the work


Materials used in production

clay mix 'T' material
clay mix Porcelain

Techniques used in production

Hand building : Coil built, raku fired ceramic.

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: the D smaller than R, in impressed approximately circular seal

  • Text: DR
  • Location: Base
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Signature

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.3-1999
Primary reference Number: 28512
Entry form number: 104
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 18 December 2023 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Black Vessel" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-22 23:49:37

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