• 16cm high, dia. 20cm. Reginald Wells 1877-1951. Rare early Coldrum vase by Reginald Wells - considered the father of British studio potters, coming a generation before Bernard Leach. There were potteries at Wrotham in Kent, as early as the seventeenth century. In 1900, Reginald Wells, at the age of twenty-three set up his pottery at nearby Coldrum. He had previously studied as a sculptor at the Royal College of Art, and as a potter at Camberwell School of Art in London. After nine years he moved Coldrum Pottery to Chelsea, and continued there until the outbreak of the First World War. Wells, who had an interest in flying from an early age, devoted the war years to his Wells Aviation Company, working from the same premises. After the war he moved to the Kings Road, renaming the company the London Pottery Company, and changing the mark from COLDRUM to SOON. In 1925 he moved to Storrington in Sussex, retaining the SOON ware brand, and continued there until his death in 1951.
  • dia. 26.5cm. In 1950 the Nigerian authorities asked Michael Cardew to become 'Pottery Officer' with the aim of improving the quality of the local work. He spent most of the next fifteen years there, having set up the Pottery Training Centre at Abuja. There were exhibitions of Abuja pottery in London in 1958, 1959 and 1962, and another in Lagos in 1960. Cardew and some of the African potters, notably Ladi wali, gave lectures and demonstrations in various parts of the world and Philip Rosenthal sponsored a European tour for them in the mid-1960's. Upon Cardew's retirement from the Nigerian Civil Service in 1965 the running of Abuja was taken over by Michael "Seamus" O'Brien. O'Brien was a student of Cardew's, but had a background in painting rather than pottery. He had to learn on-the-fly, a task made more difficult when he was told that the educational subsidy for training would stop and the pottery would have to make a profit. O'Brien stayed until 1972 continuing Cardew's tradition of encouraging the potters to make their own interpretation and decoration for the simple basic shapes he had taught them. He managed to solve, or partially solve, some of the technical problems that had beset Cardew, and further problems with efficiency were also solved during O'Brien's tenure. He was concerned that the potters earned five shillings a day, an led a fairly easy life, while farmers were earning two shillings a day and had to find 2-10s once a year to pay their taxes. It was taking the kiln gang - six or seven men - three weeks to cut sufficient wood for a firing. One day he took the laziest man aside and sawed wood with him - one at each end of a bow saw - and they finished the day with enough wood for a firing. The period allowed for the gang to do the work was subsequently reduced from three weeks to three days. In this and other ways O'Brien managed to make the pottery pay its way, or appear to pay its way to the satisfaction of the government. The Abuja pottery, now known as the Dr. Ladi Kwali Pottery, Seleja, is still government ownder, still active, but without the dynamism that made it famous in its early days. The role of oil in the Nigerian economy made keeping the pottery viable less important. Development is to be found in some of the work by potters who once worked at Abuja and have now set up their own workshops.
  • 21cm high, dia. 14cm. Sidney Tustin When Sidney Tustin joined Michael Cardew at Winchcombe Pottery in 1927 he was thirteen years old. He could not have wished for better teachers; Cardew, fresh from his own learning experience at Leach Pottery, and Elijah Comfort, the former chief thrower at Beckett's Pottery, the former occupiers of the premises where Winchcombe had been set up. His work, of course, was menial at first. He would turn the wheel for Comfort - a man for whom he had great admiration. But after a couple of years, when proper production had actually started, Cardew invested in a powered wheel for Comfort, leaving young Sidney free to start throwing. Sidney kept on throwing for fifty-one years, never leaving Winchcombe Pottery except for war service. He retired in 1978 having made over a million pots. His work is of excellent quality, and he must be considered the backbone, and certainly a star, of Winchcombe Pottery.
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    19cm high, dia. 24cm. Waistel Cooper 1921 - 2003 Textured Vase. Wood Ash Glaze. Waistel Cooper, a Scot born in 1921, set up his pottery at Porlock in Somerset in 1952. He specialised in textured surfaces and was also known to use wood ask glazes occasionally. From 1983 he operated from Barbican Pottery in Penzance, Cornwall. He signed his work with his forename in black, but I have seen a pot with just a 'W'. He died in 2003.
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    dia. 30cm. Lloyd was born in Hereford in 1926 and lives in Devon. He began painting around 1950 and received early encouragement from the sculptor Henry Moore, who was a good friend. Later in life he became friendly with the poet Ted Hughes, which resulted in Reg illustrating four of Hughes' books of poems, including the award winning 'What is the Truth?'. One of the other books of Hughes' poems illustrated by Lloyd was The Cat and the Cuckoo. Reg Lloyd's work is included in many collection, including the V & A Museum.
  • 30cm high, dia. 14cm. Denise Wren (nee Tuckfield) was born in Western Australia in 1891. Her family emigrated to England in 1899, and after a couple of years settled in Surrey. Denise studied at Kingston-upon-Thames School of Art and was taught by Archibald Knox who was an Art Nouveau designer. She learned to throw from a local potter in Surrey and in 1912 bought a kick-wheel from him. Following her marriage to Henry Wren in 1915, she started evening classes at Camberwell School of Art, and set up her own pottery in Kingston. In 1920 the couple build their own house and workshop at nearby Oxshott, and the Oxshott Pottery was started. Denise's daughter, Rosemary Wren, who became a very respected potter in her own right, was born in 1922 at Oxshott. Denise worked in earthenware up to the start of the Second World War. She was shown at the British Empire Exhibition of 1923/24, and did much to promote the craft. She wrote books and was busy with teaching commitments. Her first kiln was an American gas-fired Drakenfield, and she designed and built her own coke-fired kilns from the mid-twenties and her designs were used by other potters. After the war she started making stoneware salt-glazed pots and models. She is particularly well-known for her raku elephants of the 1960's. She was also an accomplished textile designer and was instrumental in the setting up of the Craft Potters Association. She died in 1979.