Helen Pincombe (1908-2004) made exquisite work, bowls in particular, which epitomised the British studio movement at its quietest. Beautifully potted, thinly thrown and with delicate marking that skilfully followed and enhanced the lines of her forms, her bowls expressed Herbert Read’s dictum that this shape could be, at its finest and simplest, sculptural abstraction at its purest . If Pincombe’s pieces had a basis in the Far Eastern pottery about which Read was talking, she successfully distilled that language into an economic, quintessentially modern one of her own.
Born in India, she attended the Central School and the Royal College of Art. Drawn to the natural world as she was, her bowls and jars, with their considered iron-flecked glazes and brushwork, had some of the qualities of the colours, textures and marks she found in the landscapes she knew well. Based for many years in Surrey, she latterly lived in Cambridge, working under the radar, uninterested in self-promotion or worldly success. She was a potter’s potter, her work deeply felt, tactile and responsive.