S.Blatherwick poster .pdf
Titolo: S.Blatherwick poster.pages
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The Materiality and Narratives of a Bread Crock
Archives: Items in the Home; Letters in the Museum
A home is a shelter, the meaning derives from the Greek arkheion. The ark is the place where everything is gathered. It is in the home that official documents are filed. ‘It is
... in this domiciliation ... that archives take place’. The family home is the archive. My research begins with the end of an era and the breaking up of the family home.
Derrida, J. (1995) Archive Fever.
Letter from Michael Cardew to his wife Mariel dated 28th June 1941. He informs
her of a youth called Robert Blatherwick who wants some experience at
Winchcombe Pottery. The discovery of a skilled thrower provided a serendipitous
solution to difficulties created by the Second World War. With the main throwers
conscripted into the army, Ray Finch with his wife in Nottingham and Michael
Cardew in Glasgow, the pottery was barely ticking over.
Archive of Art and Design, National Art Library, London.
Front cover of the sales sheet for the
pottery in 1941/2. The list of
handmade items is extensive and gives
details of size and price. Blatherwick’s
pencil designs for pots on this Cardew
leaflet are faintly visible.
Country Pottery and Chinese Tz'ǔ Chou
Robert Blatherwick holding a jug, in
the doorway of ‘the hut’ he lived in
while at Winchcombe. He was
employed to look after the pottery
when no one else was available in
1941-2. He passed instructions
received by letter from Cardew to
the elderly thrower Elijah Comfort.
These are some of the items listed in the sales sheet for
the pottery. The aim was to ‘make pots which could be
used for all the ordinary purposes of daily living, and to be
able to sell them at prices which would allow people to
use them in their kitchens and not mind too much when
they got broken’.
Cardew, M. (1976) In Michael Cardew, A Collection of Essays London: Crafts Advisory Committee.
Photograph from family archive.
Lecture in Lincoln
Blatherwick had studied at Lincoln School of Art and
arranged for Cardew to deliver a lecture to students
there on 5th March 1942.
'Industry and the Studio Potter' was written specifically
for this lecture and published in Crafts,The Quarterly of the
Red Rose Guild in the same year. Cardew wrote it when he
was passionate about making earthenware pots.
It has been recorded as written later and published
alongside an article on stoneware, creating a different
understanding. This illustrates how the canon contains
gaps and errors which misinform recorded histories.
To deliver the lecture and visit the sites of Lincoln,
Cardew stayed at Blatherwick’s home. This is recorded in
letters and diaries which are stored in the archives of the
Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Cardew sketched the Adam and Eve figures with serpents
on the doors of the west front of Lincoln Cathedral. He
sent the drawings to Mariel and wrote: ‘wonderful pot
design!’ Adam and Eve appear on one of the few pieces
Cardew ever produced with figures. It is recorded as
being made earlier, but this finding raises questions.
14th Century Tz’ǔ Chou type stoneware vase of the
Sung Dynasty. The architectural quality of the form
emphasises the composition. The sgraffito incised design
is drawn through a layer of slip between parallel radial
lines. The design reflects a contemplative Buddhist and
Zen love of nature.
The Canon and
Collector and historian Eric Milner-White held extreme
opinions, identifying earthenware as ‘soft pottery’. He
considered stoneware to be ‘the aristocrat of ceramics’.
In 1952 the Keeper of Ceramics at the V&A, William
Bowyer Honey, published a chapter entitled ‘Slipware and
Other Peasant Pottery’, thus establishing a connection
between the two subjects. These opinions of influential
academics contributed to the establishment of a studio
pottery canon which was dominated by a love of
The base of Blatherwick’s bread crock made of a local red
clay at Winchcombe Pottery showing date, pottery and
Photograph by Sue Blatherwick.
Earthenware pots made by Blatherwick in the entrance
hall of The Old Bakery, Reepham, near Lincoln, circa 1971.
Bread Crock by
Robert Louis Bl at h erw i c k
Although traditional English slipware was made at Winchcombe, this bread crock reflects the influence
of sophisticated Chinese stoneware design, and therefore represents a complex hybrid. Country bread
crocks had handles and were not glazed or decorated on the outside. This was one of several made in
May 1942. It was fired in the brick outer shell of the bottle kiln, known as the hovel, which acts as a
chimney and protects the inner kiln. Cardew wrote that they were ‘making bread pots for the hovel ...
got to make enough for a circle of them ... 8 or 9’. A bread crock made by Cardew is on display in the
The Potteries Museum in Stoke-on-Trent.
Cardew, M. (1942) Archive of Art and Design, National Art Library, London. Photograph by David Lothian.
Photograph by Bernard Walker.
This umbrella term is used to describe the character within
an object, a tone which is anchored within. It suggests a
narrative beyond the immediate and the obvious. Materiality
is an interdisciplinary term which includes agency and
provenance, surface tension and decoration, truth to
materials, form and function, location and engagement.
Consideration of materiality offers the potential to bring
factors together and bridge configurations in art and design.
The bread crock in the domestic
environment, where it lived with other
regularly used items for almost sixty
Photograph by David Lothian.
Oakenclough Hall, Longnor, Buxton. Derbyshire SK17 0QS
w w w. s u e b l a t h e r w i c k . m e . u k /
+ ( 4 4 ) 7 8 7 5 2 8 2 2 6 7
ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE HOUSE
S I T E ・O B J E C T ・C O N T E XT
Interpreting a Collection: A Study of
the Life and Work of
Robert Louis Blatherwick
Thesis - M.Phil.
Blatherwick worked in stoneware and earthenware until
1967. From this date he produced only earthenware. This
swam against the main tide of British studio pottery.
Although he and his family lived from the sale of a broad
range of ceramics which included tiles and jewellery, there
were few records of his work in the public domain.
Archaeology of the House. Site Object. Context. Interpreting a
Collection: A Study of the Life and Work of Robert Louis
Blatherwick addresses this imbalance and questions the
stoneware hegemony. The front cover of the thesis, above
left, shows the architect’s plans for conversion of the old
bakery, drawn in 1955. The publication of British Studio
Potters’ Marks (2015) 3rd edition, London: Bloomsbury, has
Blatherwick's RB mark on the front cover (above right).