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Look, think, do: Bowl

Description of this object or artwork

This bowl was made by potter Elspeth Owen, who lives in Grantchester, a village just outside Cambridge. Elspeth does not throw her pots on a wheel but instead takes a small ball of clay and pinches it into shape, producing delicate bowls and vessels of different shapes and sizes.

She decorates her pieces by painting them with liquid clay (slip) in different colours and then polishes them using a stone. Elspeth has used the same stone for many years, wearing it away on one side.

Touch is very important to Elspeth. She believes that it is only through touch that we can really understand an object – she calls this ‘unavoidable knowledge’. Elspeth makes objects that she wants to be touched and passed between people so she has mixed feelings about seeing her work in a glass display case in the museum, where it is out of reach!

You can see and hear Elspeth talk about this bowl in the video below

Elspeth Owen (b.1938-Present)
Circa 2010-2017
Pinched clay, painted with slips, burnished and polished.
Height 11 cm approx X diameter 17 cm approx
(c) Elspeth Owen. Given by Nicholas and Judith Goodison through The Art Fund.


  • Look closely at this bowl made by local potter Elspeth Owen. 
  • Do the colours or marks remind you of anything?


  • The way things feel in our hands is important to Elspeth.
  • Try this touch drawing challenge. How does it feel to be guided by touch? 


  • Watch our video to find out how to Make your own pinch pot. 
  • Elspeth enjoys giving her art away as a gift to people. She calls this ‘gift economy’. 
  • Who will you give your bowl to and why?  

Collections record

Collection record: 223081

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