Esias Bosch – The Master Potter

(1923 - 2010)

“When objects are compelling enough to inspire imaginative use, they succeed in transforming mundane materials and mundane behaviors into celebratory experiences.” Warren Frederick

In the absence of significant documented artist’s statements, without the benefit of an existing opus of academic review resources, to write in an art history language with a limited vocabulary of critical terms for pottery, and for an audience more often than not served the cold porridge of “the pot for the sake of the pot”… it would be an easier option to lapse into yet another hagiography of the work of Esias Bosch.

To review the legacy of Bosch in terms of a solely formalist approach with the attention focussed only on the object (the materials, technique and form) is to be irreverent to Bosch as man and Bosch as potter. It would also be dismissive of the distilling, inter-play and morphing of inner conviction and external influence which gave rise to innovation and eventually, his distinct signature which explores, reveals and affirms the essence of the object. Or, as defined by the art critic Angela van Rooyen (and as will be explored later in this essay): “… his work is essentially of and at one with nature, the nature around him and within him. As such his pottery is an exposition and an extention of his philosophical dimensions” 2 and to which Gart Clark and Lynne Wagner added that in both his pottery and his life, Bosch revealed “a sense of frugality and control”.3

There is of course merit in a formalist descriptive of Bosch’s work but the limitation is that it would be a discussion of the aesthetic of the finished product only4 in a bland vocabulary of potters’ terminology. We do need to “describe” a piece… but dare we risk going a step further in giving it the attributes of “good” and “beautiful” (or at least having a beauty about it), and “meaningful” based on what we see when looking at the pot rather than on what we know about the sum total of its integrated elements? Bosch undoubtedly produced “good pots” and “pots of beauty” but when we make use of such adjectives, it must be as a summary of the qualities embedded within the works and not to state the visual (and emotional) appeal of the beauty “that just happens on the surface.”5 Beauty is not an external veneer but is bound up with the being of good, wrote the German philosopher Gernot Böhme who explained that “in the experience of beauty [it] is not the sober noting of the perfection of a form which constitutes the experience of beauty, but rather the searching and tracing-out that a form induces.”6

In other words, Bosch’s work must be understood and appreciated for both the notable external, as well as the undeniably noble internal. A critical feature of what is notable, is his originality. Originality, as the studio potter Suzette Munnik explained, is not to be “misconstrued as meaning ‘invention’ or ‘innovation’ for the sake of novelty, implying that it is a function of an intellectual activity. On the contrary, it has a far more intuitive and unconscious basis…”7 Having gained intimate knowledge of his material, having honed his technique and mastered the studio processes, Bosch could deconstruct the pot to its parts, find its ineffable essence and then intuitively create form afresh, giving those forms new voices rather than recreate forms and make them speak in a contrived patois. He could then have lapsed into successive reincarnations of the same form but opted to make the point of arrival, the next point of departure. His journey had no end even when he had exhausted the possibilities and challenges of a medium. When earthenware could no longer satisfy his creativity, he moved on to stoneware and from there to porcelain, attaining mastery of each of the clay mediums. Bosch stayed true to his dictum that an artist’s work should not remain static “for as soon as a certain proficiency is achieved, the danger exists that the work becomes repetitive instead of creative; it becomes superficial and lifeless.” 8

Bosch defined himself in his home language Afrikaans as ambagspotter and kunstenaar-ambagsman-pottebakker.9 It is important to understand his emphasis on “ambag” (trade) which he directly links with “kunstenaar” (artist) and potter and pottebakker (both meaning potter) because ambag as the root word of ambagsman and ambagspotter is the very essence of his aesthetics as potter and of his pottery. The noun ambag refers to manual labour, the descriptive noun ambagsman to having a career typified by manual labour10 but not manual labourer as a distinction of class in labour, and it also equates with (handi)craft, artisan and craftsman.11 In all of this, in the sense of being skilled and performing an essentially humble hand-skill at a professional level. Hence, career potter could serve as translation for ambagspotter and professional artist potter for kunstenaar-ambagsman-pottebakker. In expressing a self-description, Bosch is simultaneously a potter and artist, equipped with professional skills and manual dexterity, totally dedicated to the labour of artful pottery and in humble service thereof. This same consummate approach to his work, was also mirrored in his lifestyle of which he confessed in a television documentary broadcast in 1976, that: “It is not just a matter of making a living, it is also a matter of how you live your life.”12

Art pottery? Artistic pottery? Artful pottery? It would be easy to lapse into fancy semantics to build the argument that Bosch qualifies as one of the definitive potters of his era and specifically in the ranks of those who were schooled in the Anglo-Oriental tradition and who, in the interpretation rather than the rejection of Anglo-Orientalism, elevated their pottery to a new level of visual, tactile, functional and aesthetic dialogue. Bosch never renounced the pot qua pot in favour of a new clay creature but by evolutionary rather than revolutionary measure13 captured a distinctive gestalt of ethical construction, economy of form, integrated textural quality, a modicum of decoration, and conceptual if not actual functionality. He architected space within space.

There was neither a divine spark nor a Damascene conversion which launched Bosch as a potter but a chance opportunity introduced him to pottery. An admirable biography of Bosch14 was written by his daughter, Andrée in collaboration with Johann de Waal, of which a summary must serve to put Bosch in temporal context.

Bosch was born as son of a miner father on 11th July 1923 in the rural town of Winburg in the Free State Province of South Africa. In his teen years he had an interest in drawing but the secondary school which he attended did not offer art as a subject. To please his parents, he enrolled for his degree in dentistry at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg but within a week of attending classes, switched to a degree in the fine arts. After a year at the university, he enrolled at the Johannesburg Art School which placed greater emphasis on art as practice. After graduating in 1946, Bosch accepted a teaching post at the Diskobolos School for disabled children. His then girlfriend and future wife, Valerie, spotted a newspaper advertisement inviting applications for the Robert Storm Ceramics Bursary at the Central School of Art and Design in London. Bosch applied principally to escape the humdrum and bureaucracy of his teaching post: “it presented an escape for me. I still had no great interest in pottery, but I had nothing to lose…”. He was awarded the bursary and departed for London at the end of 1949 to commence study. Dora Billington headed the ceramics department at the Central School of Art and Design and instilled in Bosch the discipline to study pots which he did so at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The course in pottery was geared towards training students as school craft teachers and this held no appeal for Bosch. This disillusion with formal training in art continued for many years afterwards and he was quite outspoken in his opposition to an academic grounding in art: “a lot of bunk, a lot of nonsense… a lot of lah-di-dah about it all. It is really a finishing school for fairly attractive women with a lot of money… the sooner it is realised that the artist is an ordinary working man like a bricklayer, the better for the artist and the better for art. At the moment art is a little too precious and art a little too arty.” 15

When Bosch expressed his wish to be a potter to Billington, she referred him to Raymond Finch at Winchcombe Pottery in Gloucestershire. This was the former pottery of Michael Cardew under whom Finch had studied, and the output was exclusively domestic ware. Bosch was accepted as apprentice and during the initial period had to perform the most menial of tasks with no pay. Then followed a period of six months during which he was permitted to throw only pint jugs on a kick-wheel. Finch did involved Bosch in the making of the pottery’s first stoneware pots which, recalled Bosch, had “the most wonderful tomato red” but, because of the high silica content, many of those shattered. About the Winchcombe experience he wrote much later that it taught him “the no nonsense approach to work… what I have done in later years was partly because of the sound approach at Winchcombe.”16 To gain further experience, Bosch moved on to Cardew’s pottery at Wenford Bridge in Cornwall where he gained valuable experience in wood-firing. This period of study and work in England was one of introduction to the Anglo-Oriental aesthetic and he met several of its proponents such as Bernard Leach, Shōji Hamada, Sam Haile and Harry Davis.

He returned to South Africa in September 1952 and with some months to spare before taking up the post of head of the ceramics department at the Technical College in Durban, he found employment at the Globe Potteries in Pretoria where his job was to decorate earthenware ashtrays, vases and ornaments with San designs. His original bursary required of Bosch to serve a two year period at the Technical College but in his free time in a backyard studio, he produced his own slip-glazed domestic earthenware on a Leach kick-wheel, fired in an electric kiln. The Durban public showed little enthusiasm for Bosch’s pieces not because of their quality, but because of unfamiliarity with hand-thrown domestic ware and the notion of the time that only imported English pottery would be of any good. His next appointment would be as part-time lecturer in ceramics at the Pretoria Art School which permitted Bosch to continue with his earthenware production in a studio in the city suburb of Hatfield. The range of pieces now also included vases, fruit bowls and tile panels. By now, Bosch had become a family man and he and Valerie were parents of the daughters Esra and Andrée and son Anton.

A defining moment in his pottery career was the time spent with Cardew in Nigeria in 1959 where Bosch learned from Cardew about clay, glazes and wood-fired kilns. The desire to have his own wood-fired kiln (he considered it “one of the most gentle ways of coaxing beauty from body and glaze”) was one of the reasons that prompted Bosch to leave Pretoria and find a rural setting for a new home and studio. A suitable site was found at Die Randjie (“The Hilltop”) outside the town of White River in the scenic Lowveld region. Bosch constructed his Cardew-design kiln which was not very fuel-efficient and took up to 36 hours to fire. The abundance of black wattle proved to be excellent wood fuel and its ash produced glazes. By now Bosch had switched from earthenware to stoneware and would favor that clay medium until 1975. By October 1961, Bosch had mastered his materials, technique and firing and at the end of that year, he was able to supply stock to the gallery dealer Helen de Leeuw. De Leeuw later confirmed that Bosch in this period, had a primary interest in producing domestic ware “…believing that a potter performs his true function when his pots are put to daily use by the society around him.”17 She was also witness to his extreme proficiency in throwing and watched him as he threw thirty casseroles within as many minutes. It was for his entry in 1963 of a casserole pot at the Kiln Club of Washington’s Ninth International Exhibition of Ceramic Art, under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institute, that Bosch was awarded a silver medal. In 1965 he was commissioned to create a 264 piece dinner service for the Administrator of the Transvaal Province.

Cardew, the earlier mentor of Bosch, passionately opposed the term “functionalism”, considering it “… that sterile exercise of aesthetic puritanism which invaded the world of design like a blight in the early decades of this century, it is at last seen to be absurd.”18 Finch too, held “functionalism” in disdain as a Modernism concept, equated it with art and considered it a “posh” word.19 Both Cardew and Finch favoured “useful” as being the descriptive intent of their pottery as pots to be used. Cardew did not imply that such a useful pot would be stripped of dignity and argued in favour of a combination of utility and beauty in “…a true fusion, in which those two abstractions are melted into one, and become real in the process.”20 Howard Risatii, Emeritus Professor of Contemporary Art and Critical Theory, says the “use” of an item might not correspond to its original intended function (e.g. a brick can be used as a doorstop) and proposes “applied object”21 since it would make reference to both purposeful form and specific function. The potter Andrew Bliss Nicklas speaks of “utilitarian objects”22 and for Yanagi Soetsu, the philosopher and promoter of Japanese mingei craft, “utilitarian” was measured by being made in quantity, to be inexpensive and dependent on common tradition.23 There is no record of Bosch participating in the functional-domestic-useful-utilitarian label debate. He dismissed all of that with his statement: “‘n Pot moet gesien word vir wat hy is”24 translated as “A pot must be appraised for what it is”. He did however, make a clear distinction between pots that are functional and pots for the voorkamer25 (living room), the latter specifically intended as “something to appease the soul” but nevertheless retaining the essence of functionality even if that would make it “a pretty pricy stewpot.”26

For Arthur C. Danto, a pot qua pot (as an object) would be a “mere real thing” because it was not intended by its maker to be a work of art and was not presented as a work of art to an art world public… they are just what they are.27 In effect, it represents the mundane but in its very functionability or its sensual qualities or the integration of both, says professor of philosophy Yuriko Saito, it is an “aesthetic appreciation of the mundane”28 not for being what it is or what it is not, but in our experience of it. In its essential nature a pot presents rather than represents as an object but can assume a conceptual character. The German philosopher Martin Heidegger dissected the existential character of the pot and declared that: “The vessel’s thingness… does not lie in all of the material of which it consists but in the void that it holds.”29 That void, said Bosch, was “an abstract void”30 which could not be created in any other form of art and which echoes the sentiments of the British art historian Herbert Read that “pottery is plastic art in its most abstract essence.”131

At that level of debate, when an artefact (a pot) loses its everydayness to become something extraordinary in our perception of what it is and can represent outside of its physical form, it assumes the properties of being art. Bosch, quoting Cardew, was emphatic that: “Usefulness did not preclude the possibility that an object might be a work of art”32 and in that sense even something as ordinary as a sugar bowl earned the right to be displayed on a shelf all by itself because of its design for the specific purpose of functionality.33

His interpretation of the representation of form is a key criteria when Bosch’s work is discussed. Form is not just the physical but also the space it commands and that was an invitation for Bosch to explore the identity and diversity of a form of which he knew the possibilities in advance: “When I throw a pot or bowl… I know what the form will be. It may alter slightly to compensate for the characteristics of the clay, but merely to sit and produce in the hope that some good will emerge, is a waste of time.”34 Shapes, he said, were not made but evolved from one to the other as though the creative doing – a complete assimilation of man and material - rather than the creative thought, was the event which revealed a “surprise” awareness of forming and form.35

Three of the early commentators on Bosch’s work emphasised the sophistication of his very basic approach to design. Garth Clark and Lynne Wagner hailed the purism, economy and technical perfection of his work.36 For F.G.E. Nilant the appeal of Bosch lay in the simplicity of materials and shape.37 and for Hans Fransen it was the balance of shape and decorative elements.38 A romanticized commentary would be that Bosch did not try to make the piece talk but allowed it to speak for itself.39 He did avoid what Cardew roundly condemned in “art pots” as “[deliberate] willed injections of personality.”40 About a piece not dominated by the maker’s Weltanschauung (or even his ego), the Spanish ceramicist Claudi Casanovas, wrote a poem41 as an artist’s statement, part of which reads:
Each piece is a silence
that is filled with the sounds of your gaze

Bosch`s range of materials for his stoneware glazes were wood ash, dolomite, iron oxide, granite and also salt. He ground his own materials which were collected in the vicinity of his studio. Ingredients were altered and adapted and “impurities were handled “in such a manner that they enhance the glaze instead of detracting from it.”42 He considered his glazes to be his personal signature44 which evolved over a period of many years. Surface decorations into the clay were incisions into wet clay, sgraffito and impressing. He would throw and turn about a hundred pieces and then set about to decorate the one after the other. De Leeuw watched him at the process of applying decorative work: “The pot thrown, Bosch sits back, appraising its simple shape, then with swift deft strokes decorates it by cutting with a wooden tool into the wet clay. He feels very strongly about this type of decoration, finding it part and parcel of stoneware, and when one sees how the glaze reacts on the cut surface, one realises that the decoration is not an embellishment or after-thought, but an integral part of the finished pot.”44 His decorative motifs, said Bosch, were inspired by his everyday surrounds and not “forced into life.”45 To the journalist Petra Grutter he explained that the decoration would develop as a work process, initially slow and constrained, later with greater speed and that the best decorative work was that which he could do fastest.46

Katinka Kempff, art critic and lecturer, enthused about “the wonderful tactile quality of recent handling: the pressure of thumbs or fingers to create a border of parallel ridges; a row of thumb-pinched knoblets to define a contour brought slowly towards a narrowing neck; a rhythmic combed pattern; a wave-like ribbon of small suns and moving clouds; a bird shape or a plant form that grows miraculously under the glowing colour of the glaze.”47 His stylised bird in flight design, so frequently used on stoneware, porcelain and the later ceramic panels, was so distinctive that it became known as “Bosch birds”. Nilant viewed the end-result as an undeniably “South African product” in character and appearance48 but Hansen summarised it better as having “a certain uncontrived African flavour, achieved not by the use of overt African motifs, but more by its general feel and the nature of its decorations.”49 He was insistent on decorating not only the exterior surface but also to repeat the design inside the bowl, under the lid and on the foot. When asked why he bothered with such excesses when no one would bother to look there, his reply was that the angels could see there.

Bosch produced stoneware until 1975 and then switched to high-fired porcelain until 1979 when he shifted his attention to making large ceramic tiles. Earthenware, he said, always demands surface decoration as underlying base for the glaze and that in earthenware, form is subservient to decoration whereas stoneware, is a unity of the form and of the quality of the glaze.50 When he abandoned stoneware for porcelain, it was partly because the glazes had lost their charm and grew to be “nice” and an easy way out to hide the sins of the pot51 and permitted “clever niceties” (slimmighede).52 To Van Rooyen he explained: “Porcelain remains clay and in this medium I can say more – with less.”53 In his porcelain work, Bosch reached the apex of his synthesis of form and decoration. Of this medium he said: “… porcelain limits you and you can’t go beyond what the material and the wheel will permit… you can’t fiddle with it… get on with doing what you want to do and finish the job.54 He favoured a trail slip under a white glaze or green celadon, and excelling in brushwork decoration in iron oxides and cobalt. “I wanted decoration to be very simple and controlled,” he said, because that “is where many potters tend to fail. To slop, flop and hack at a well-thrown pot with those big brushes is not the answer.”55 One of the exceptional pieces in the Corobrick Collection of ceramics in the Pretoria Art Museum is the porcelain bowl for which Bosch received the Oude Libertas Award for Thrown Work at the Association of Potters of South Africa’s national exhibition in 1977 in Johannesburg.

Bosch had an all or nothing approach in his work discipline. A potter could not throw a pot that “sings”, he said, unless he had first made hundreds of the same who were mute. He was also a fierce judge of his own work. To Grutter he said that he might at best have produced ten truly good pots in any single year56 and in a television interview his thoughts were that: “You might find one good pot in a kiln of 200 or 300 pots… there will be only one pot that invites a second look.”57

To the author Chris Barnard, he confided his belief that no artist could ever become the master of his art and should an artist dare to belief so, it would be a betrayal of his art.58 Dramatic proof of how unforgiving Bosch was towards his own work, was the times when without advance warning, he entered the studio and destroyed whatever he deemed had no or little merit. Though in the earlier years he would sell “seconds” (to buyers usually of some wealth, of seconds whom he held in great disdain),59 in his later pottery period only what met his most exacting standards of technical excellence would be released to the market.

In all his years of pottery, Bosch only used a potter’s mark whilst working at Winchcombe where his initials were stamped alongside the studio’s “WP” mark60 and while teaching and working in Durban from 1952 to 1954 his mark was an aloe. Over the years he would give two motivations for abstaining from adding an identification. In 1965 he said: “I have never thought about a signature to my work; identification is really the work of the archaeologist” but added that he had developed an own “handwriting” in his work which made his pottery distinctively Bosch.61 In a published interview in 1979 he held the view that it is of no relevance which potter created which pot because the pot per se was what mattered. It was not said as a reference to the mingei tradition of anonymity for the sake of celebrating the pot and not the potter but out of exasperation with “the sick tendency of South Africans to chase after [famous] names, buying the name rather than the pot” which he denounced as self-aggrandizement.62

Now, more than thirty years after putting pottery aside, anonymous pots are attributed to him because at first glance they are reminiscent of his materials, technique and finish. The error of misidentification does not only occur at the level of the novice collector but even in the art auction room. A recent example was the auction of a “Bosch” floor pot which was in fact the work of Andrew Walford with Walford’s unmistakable ohm monogram on the foot.

This “silence” of both the object and its maker, as Geraint Roberts describes it in Interpreting Ceramics,63 and as evident in the work of Bosch, is both intentional and accidental. This silence “within ceramic objects and the silence around such objects,” in the opinion of Jeffrey Jones, Reader in Ceramics at Cardiff School of Art and Design, could have as much strategic as aesthetic intention64 Jones quotes Susan Sonntag’s argument that this, on the part of the potter, is a manner of renunciation to be read as “a highly social gesture” indicating “a sense of superiority… through the choice of silence”65 and hence this is an active silence. This permits, says Jones, the happening of different silences in and through which “the relationship between the silence of people and the silence of things can be apprehended and explored.”66 On the one hand, in the view of Graham McLaren of the Bath School of Art and Design, it accomodates attribution of meaning (the practical and aesthetic experience) through consumption (using, seeing, owning) and re-consumption over time,67 on the other, at the level where essential, critical discourse must take place, the onus to discover, explore and interpret is shifted to the non-makers. Edmund de Waal, British ceramic artist, curator, lecturer, art critic and art historian, bemoans this “platitudinous silence… it means that conversations about interpretation, curation and display go on elsewhere.”68 Regrettably, this also means that those who have the voice with which to speak what the pots and the potters leave unsaid, are silent or speak in a whisper. The endowment by the Swiss-based The Haenggi Foundation Inc. in 2009 of 24 Bosch pieces to the Pretoria Art Museum69 and two pieces by the same foundation along with 12 pieces from the private collection of Fernand and Caroline M. Haenggi to the Oliewenhout Art Museum in Bloemfontein70 – all of them of critical historical value – did not even earn the briefest of mentions in South Africa’s only ceramics magazine, National Ceramics.

The lack of documented material about Bosch, aside from the Bosch-De Waal biography and the hagiographies and “love letters”(the latter two which Garth Clark, the noted ceramics critic and historian, dismisses as “what passes for scholarship in our field [of ceramics]), 71 leaves Bosch the man, Bosch the maker, the totality of Bosch’s oeuvre and the canonicity thereof, either open for the invention of a truth of Bosch or an aesthetic discourse on the truth of Bosch. A historiography of Bosch (in context of the historiography of ceramics per se) would consider not only Bosch as homo faber (man-the-maker) expressing himself in Risatti’s construct of ”facio ergo sum” (“I am making, therefore I am”)72 as a conscious deed of making, but would give consideration beyond the “potchat”73 of making. At the level of making, Julian Stair, the British potter and writer, calls for an appraisal in ceramics of “ergonomics, tactile characteristics, kinaesthetic appreciation, architectural site specificity, relationship to other objects, issues of human scale…” which gives acknowledgement to “exist[ence] within a long continuum of historical precedents, while its actual use takes place within a world of highly complex social interactions.”74 What would apply to Bosch, would be relevant for many other of the distinguished South African potters of his “silent” era (Hyme Rabinowitz, Bryan Haden, Ian Glenny, Steve Shapiro, to mention but a few). It would reveal how their work, as De Waal explains, is “entangled in the values of the maker and in that maker’s appropriation of ideas and images, as well as the values of those through whose lives it is successively animated”75 or as Greenhalgh puts it, how their work wears the past in the present and can wear the future in the present.76 Bosch pieces on exhibit or when they go on auction, never explain or extol their socio-historical placement and value as functional pieces (in the broadest meaning thereof) but has to suffice with a form and material description on a label or a catalogue entry in which, far too often, an artificial monetary value is imposed on it. We have re-created his work as “visual fetishes.”77

In 1979, Bosch ceased all pottery work and devoted his talents to creating ceramic wall panels. That genre of Bosch is deserving of an individual essay. It must suffice for now to mention that his tile panels – in stoneware and in the hi-tech ceramic material he later developed for that purpose – are extraordinary achievements in design and size. They grace buildings such as the Wesbank Building (formerly the Schlesinger Centre, a mural of approximately 92.9 m2 comprising of more than 5 000 tiles78) in Johannesburg; the interiors of the Town House and Vineyard hotels in Cape Town; the corporate headquarters of Foskor, Sasol, the SABC and the head offices of the Merensky Foundation and of the South African Academy for Art and Science. The largest of these was a mural of stoneware tiles for the Johannesburg international airport (now the O.R. Tambo International airport) which measured 57.9 metres in length and was 6.4 metres high. Seventy firings were required to produce the mural’s 3 000 tiles. During recent renovations to the airport and without consulting any party about the preservation of it, the mural was demolished and consigned to a dump heap.

Bosch regularly exhibited his functional pieces in South Africa and was represented in exhibitions in the U.S.A., Britain, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland. The University of Pretoria and the University of Stellenbosch awarded him their Chancelor Medals in 1990 and 1991 respectively and earlier, in 1981, he was honoured with the Medal of Honour by the South African Academy for Science and Art. Rather belatedly, the Association of Potters of South Africa of which Bosch was a pioneer member, only conferred the honorific title of “Master Potter” on Bosch in 2000. A retrospective exhibition of his work was presented by the Pretoria Art Museum in September 1988 and another poshumously in White River in 2010. By then his work had been accepted into all but two of the nine major South African public collections.

Bosch has to date commanded the highest prices at South African auction houses for functional works by a studio potter wth the hammer falling at the ZAR15 000 mark and art dealer prices in excess of that figure.79 The prices now achieved for his works are a far cry from the days when gallery dealers would arrive at his studio “to load up their Combis for just a few Rands”80 or prices at his South African Arts Association exhibition in 1969 where prices ranged from a low of ZAR25 to a high of ZAR850.81

In 2003, at the age of 80 years, he set aside his ceramic work and resumed painting and drawing, the two subjects in which he excelled while studying at the Johannesburg Technical College some sixty years earlier. Bosch passed away on 24 April 2010.

It was in 1988 that Bosch, in his usual plain speak, reflected on his life’s work in clay and what he then said, unwittingly captured the very essence of his legacy: “… all the years of working in one medium… it [taught me] to be humble. The most important lesson of all is what you may omit… it is not about what you do in your work, but what you are not doing to it.”82

1. Frederick, Warren. (ii) 2002. Transforming the Mundane (objects to impel imaginative use)
2. Van Rooyen, Angela. (n.d.) Esias Bosch in Our Art 3
3. Clark, Garth & Wagner, Lynne. 1974. Potters of Southern Africa
4. Trilling, James. 3 November 2005. The Aesthetic of Process - and Beyond
5. Jabobs, R. (i) 28 September 2010. Searching for Beauty
6. Böhme, Gernot. 2010. On Beauty
7. Munnik, Suzette. March 1981. On Originality
8. Van Rooyen
9. Van Biljon, M.L. Esias Bosch Die Pottebakker
10. De Villiers, Smuts, Eksteen & Gouws (editors). 1985. Nasionale Woordeboek
11. Bosman, Van der Merwe & Hiemstra (editors). 1984. Tweetalige Woordeboek
12. Basson, Annie. 1976. Esias Bosch
13. Clark, Garth & Wagner, Lynne. 1974. Potters of Southern Africa
14. Bosch, Andrée & De Waal, Johann. 1988. Esias Bosch
15. Unknown author. 1959. Untitled review. Pretoria News
16. Wheeler, Ron. 1998. Winchcombe Pottery – The Cardew-Finch Tradition
17. De Leeuw, Helen. 1962. The evolution of a stoneware potte
18. Partington, Matthew. 2000. Ray Finch and Functional
19. ibid
20. Cardew, Michael. 1938. Modern English Potters
21. Risatii, Howard. 2007. A Theory of Craft: Function and Aesthetic Expression, location 364
22. Nicklas, Andrew Bliss. April 2009. AH!
23. Soetsu, Yanagi. 1961. Works of the Artist and Mingei.
24. Grutter, Petra. 1976. Bosch
25. Unknown author. 19 September 1976. Esias, my china
26. ibid
27. Saari, Heikki. 2002. Creating Works of Art by Interpreting Objects
28. Saito, Yuriko. 2007. Everyday Aesthetics, location 98
29. Risatti, location 2087
30. Basson, Annie
31. Read, Herbert. 1931. The Meaning of Art
32. Bosch & De Waal
33. Van Biljon
34. Clark & Wagner
35. Koen, C.B. 1987. ‘n Introspeksie – Die Corobrik Uitstalling
36. Clark & Wagner
37. Nilant, F.G.E. 1963. Contemporary Pottery in South Africa
38. Fransen, Hans. 1982. Three Centuries of South African Art
39. Kamstra, Mike W. Ceramics 75
40. Clark, Garth. 2001. Cardew In America
41. Roberts, Geraint. 2004. Filling the Silence: Towards an Understanding of Claudi Casanovas’ Blocks
42. Van Rooyen
43. Basson
44. De Leeuw
45. Basson
46. Grutter
47. Bosch & De Waal
48. Nilant
49. Art Archives – South Africa. 2011. Esias Bosch
50. Van Biljon
51. Bosch & De Waal
52. Grutter
53. Van Rooyen
54. Auld, Allen. 1988. Esias Bosch
55. Bosch & De Waal
56. Grutter
57. Basson
58. Barnard, Chris. 1979. Toe het hy ‘n pottebakker geword.
59. Grutter
60. Finch, Joe. October 2011. Personal correspondence
61. Unknown. 4 March 1965. Esias Bosch – South African Potter
62. Barnard
63. Roberts
64. Jones, Jeffrey. 2004. Keeping Quiet and Finding a Voice: Ceramics and the Art of Silence
65. ibidi
66. ibid
67. McLaren, Graham. 2009. Book Review: Studio Pottery in Britain 1900-2005
68. De Waal, Edmund. 2004. Speak for Yourself
69. The Haenggi Foundation Inc. (ii)
70. The Haenggi Foundation Inc. (iii)
71. Clark, Garth. 27 October 1988. Between a Toilet and a Hard Place
72. Risatti, location 2709
73. De Waal
74. Stair, Julian. A Sense of Place
75. De Waal
76. Paul Greenhalgh, Paul. 14 October 2001. Social Complexity and the Historiography of Ceramic
77. Frederick, Warren. 1995. The Poetics of Primitive Pottery
78. Haenggi, Fernand. 2011. Art Archives – South Africa. 2011. Esias Bosch.
79. Watt, Ronnie & Holmes, Katherine. 2011. Auction News – Esias Bosch 2010/2011.
80. Bosch, Esra. October 2011. Personal correspondence
81. South African Arts Association. 26 May 1969. Katalogus-Catalogue – Esias Bosch
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For further insights into the ceramics and painting oeuvres of Esias Bosch, visit the Esias Bosch website