honest pots

Honest pots is a wonderful exhibition on currently at York Art Gallery, and the pot above is my favourite in the show. A glorious 18th century slip decorated dish, if I could find someone who could make one of these today I would love to use it for lasagna, pasta bakes or pies. The idea of the show is to display wonderful old museum collection pots alongside the work of modern potters that have been inspired by the old work. Surprising to see no work by Bernard Leach but this was a very fine slipware dish by Shoji Hammada. Interesting that the originals were unglazed on the rims so they would stack in the kiln where Hammada using modern kiln furniture was able to glaze his rim, I actually like the unglazed pie crust rims.

 This is a similar dish, punched through to make a colander. I had always thought these were Staffordshire but this pot and the one at the top are very similar to two pots I adore at Haddon Hall in Derbyshire and this one was labeled as being made in Derbyshire.

 One more glorious old dish.

 Now normally in a collection of modern slipware the pots that stand out for me are by Michael Cardew but I thought his pieces in this exhibition were nothing to write home about, this slip dish for instance.

 Now on to jugs, some nice medieval jugs first, always roughly and quickly thrown, these were made fast and sold cheap, they were used for drawing liquids from barrels and serving it into wooden drinking bowls.
These wonderful pots are water cisterns, they were to keep a supply of water in the house, how much nicer than modern drinking fountains or plastic water bottles. The hole at the bottom would have had a wooden tap and spile.

 And now on to my friend Doug Fitch. He has a good number of pots in the show and they looked great. Here are a little group of jugs and a cider jar with tap. You can see the big photos of doug at work on the wall behind.

 Here he is fitting a handle.

Many other twentieth century traditional potters were represented, here is a nice cider jar by Ray Finch and John Leach had some lovely jugs in the show.

More old water cisterns, I love the wobbly rim on this one.

There were two videos running at one end of the gallery, one of Doug Fitch’s pottery and one of Isack Button, here is a photo of him on the left.
 I have never really appreciated this sort of slipware though it has a long tradition, I was surprised they didn’t have any work by John Hudson alongside it as he still makes exactly this sort of work locally.
Another friend was represented Geoff Fuller, who is a well respected potter but also runs a fantastic old pub near to me. A trip to the Three Stags Heads is like stepping into a Thomas Hardy novel. Geoff is best known for his figurative pots like this lurcher and hare.
I love his domestic ware though and particularly his free slip trailing, I have a dish with a slip trailed hare running across it which is a beauty and I love this small slip dish he made last year. I am hoping a larger one will come out like it so I can have my lasagna dish. It is the nearest thing I have seen yet to the gorgeous dish at the top of the page.

3 Responses to honest pots

  1. doug Fitch November 1, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    There sure are some stunners in the show, I'm pleased you got to see it and thanks for blogging about it. Iwas showing Alex McErlain(who curated the show) some John Hudson mugs at my workshop, but I think there's a new museum regulation that curators are only allowed twelve loans – everything else has to come from the museum's collection, so Alex was rather restricted on the number of pots he was allowed to borrow – a pity because he had quite a few plans for pot loans that he had to cut back on. Amazing that everything except twelve of those pots belong to the Museum collection. Hope to see you on the circuit at some time, cheers, Doug

  2. bradhenrypottery March 5, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    What a great post. Loved all the photos of pots and your descriptions. Thank you.

  3. Alex May 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Hi Robin I have just been given this link, what a wondeful blog and Im so pleased you enjoyed the exhibition. There is a BL pot in the show, a large pitcher displayed in withthe medieval works.It would heve been nice to have access to a piece of BL slipware but the museum does not have any and as Doug said loans were restricted to 12 pieces.ThanksAlex.