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pottery in york, uk

updated tue 24 sep 02


Jenny Lewis on mon 23 sep 02

Hi all

Just back from visiting friends in York, which is a beautiful and
fascinating city for anyone heading for this part of the world. One of
the main attractions when I go there is the York City Art Gallery, where
there is a wonderful collection of studio pottery, collected and donated
to the city by the Reverend Eric Milner-White. There's a book about the
collection which some of you may have come across. There are lots of
pots in a small room, and the Rev Eric certainly had a good eye and a
talent for buying - Leach, Hamada, Martin Brothers, Michael Cardew, many
others, and he particularly liked the work of William Staite Murray so
there are quite a few of his. WSM was a painter who took to pottery,
and then left the country to live in Kenya (I think) in the 1930s and
stopped potting!!! Bad news, that - his stuff was terrific.

I also paid a visit to the Yorkshire Museum, nearby, and now have TWO
places that are the most important thing(s) to do when visiting York.
There was a collector of ceramics named Bill Ismay, who died in early
2001, and his pots have all gone to the museum. What a collection -
over 3,000, and he lived in a small house! There are some photographs
of his kitchen, living room, etc - pots EVERYwhere, not an inch of space
to be seen, hardly even any floor space. How did he get around?, I kept
asking myself. Big names, my gosh, he had about 30 Coper pots which
just sort of stood around the kitchen, lots of other well known names
but also lots of others less well known. His buying policy was simple,
if he liked it he bought it - within budget constraints. Before
retirement he worked as a librarian, and for many years compiled the
annual index for Ceramic Review magazine. The info in the museum says
that he knew exactly what he had in the collection. It was wonderful
seeing the pots on display (not all 3,000, sadly!) and I just had to
tell someone who would like the idea as much as I did. A house full
(really FULL) of beautiful pottery - so who needs floor space. Or
furniture. Or shelves. Or anywhere to sit.

So, in one small historical city there are two fabulous collections of
studio pots, purchased over the years by non-makers who nevertheless
loved the stuff. York gets very crowded with tourists most of the year
round, and specially in summer, but I have to say - if you can go, go!

Jenny Lewis
back in London, back at work,
wondering how I could fit 3,000 pots into my house
(though sometimes it feels I'm nearly there...)
(no Copers though)

Kira-Umich on mon 23 sep 02

Jenny -

I did a residency at Wysing Arts in Cambridge this summer, and while I was
there had the opportunity to go to Kettles Yard - plenty of Copers there!
And a fair amount of Lucie Rie, as well as non-clay work that was very
interesting. It's not that far for you, if you haven't been there. I loved
hearing about York - I'll have to put it on the list for next year!

Missing marmite in Michigan,