JENNY LEWIS on wed 29 jan 97
Snippet of useless information about the pottery towns - there are
six of them: Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Longton and
Fenton. Arnold Bennett wrote a series of novels set in the five
towns, simply dropping one of them, not sure why - I think he decided
that the title "Anna of the Five Towns" sounded better than with six!
Stoke-on-Trent is now the name of the whole lot lumped together I
suppose for bureaucratic council or civil service purposes, or
The Museum (in Hanley, I think) is fantastic - even though a lot of
the stuff there is not to my personal taste, I enjoyed seeing it
all. The Gladstone Museum is wonderful. Also, unexpectedly, rather
moving - in the "great" days of the Potteries people had a very short
life expectancy. The hundreds of coal-fired kilns didn't do much for
healthy air, and glaze-dippers for example spent their lives up to
their elbows in poison, so they didn't have much chance of survival
beyond their thirties. The history is fascinating, and there have
been some wonderful items made over the centuries, but it is rather
sad to learn about the price that was paid.
End of serious note.
I agree with other responses - if you are in London DON'T miss the
Victoria and Albert Museum. Their collection of ceramics is superb,
but allow lots of time to be able to do as much as you can. (They
say their galleries cover about 7 miles, and apart from the
specialised ceramics rooms, there are pots to be seen just about
everywhere else, so hope you are fit, and enjoy walking!) Also, very
good cafe, when you need a rest and some coffee, and a good shop. I
love the place, occasionally day-dream about living there....
Also the British Museum - Ancient Greece, Etruscan, Roman, oriental
galleries, Islamic ... more walking, more fitness required,
definitely worth it! And another nice cafe ... v important.
Also, for more info a good place to visit is the Crafts Council, in
Pentonville Road, nearest tube station - Angel. They have ongoing
exhibitions and a good shop with terrific selection of books. Also,
upstairs is an excellent reference section with an index of makers
around the country.
The Ceramic Review magazine comes out every other month, May-June
issue should be available when you are here, very useful for info on
exhibitions and other events around the country.
12 days won't be enough!