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BY the author of The Eccentric Teapot, this is a book about design gone mad in the large private US collection of crazy one-off teapots, many of which cultural treasures were commissioned by the collection’s owners.

Not for Mr Clark’s teapots is Michael Cardew’s comment on the aesthetics of teapot making in his 1969 book The Pioneer Potter, that “teapots illustrate in an acute form the dialectical struggle to reconcile the demands of convenience and those of appearance, to combine utility with beauty.”

The collection has at its heart the “freely-explored sculptural forms” of teapot magic. One of the most potent of domestic icons, it has been suggested by French installation artist Arman that the teapot is one of society’s fetish objects, suggesting that its place in our lives is more complex and subconscious than we realise and that within this small pot, handle and spout is all manner of meaning, metaphor and memory.

With fine photography of 250 teapots in its lively 14 chapters, The Artful Teapot serves up a 500-year history of tea and then rattles through chapters on pots from Yixing in China, birthplace of teapots, through Form and Function and Beauty and Decoration, while Chapters 5 and 6 Assemblage and Mutant Materials/Things Aren’t What They Seem is a collection of wild objects which represent some stunning “truth to materials” skills. Teapots here are made from olive oil cans, dollar bills and beads, but see too on page 153 David Damkoehler’s 1998 stainless steel Fast Lane Teapot for something akin to Christopher Dresser for style. The chapter Tea for Art’s Sake includes Kasimir Malevich’s lovely porcelain Suprematist Teapot and Three Cups, designed in 1923 for the Leningrad State Porcelain factory whose director told the designer that his teapot didn’t pour well.

Malevich, who founded the non-objective art movement Suprematism in 1915, responded as only an artist can: “It is not a teapot, it is the idea of a teapot.”