This is a ginger jar decorated by Dora Billington. Miss Billington (she was always called "Miss Billington") did it for Bernard Moore, the Stoke-on-Trent art potter, for whom she worked a few days a week while still an art student. "There I got my first insight into studio pottery," she told John Farleigh many years later, "and for that experience I have always been grateful to Bernard Moore."
I include this piece not because I particularly like it, but because pottery by Miss Billington is so rare, despite the fact that she exhibited frequently in her lifetime and won prizes for her work. (Her teaching at the Central School of Art and Craft was not full-time and she had a studio in her home where she liked to work alone, without assistants, free from the distraction of students.) An exhibition about Bernard Moore at the V&A thirty years ago (curated by Aileen Dawson) showed only two pieces of her work. This piece came up at auction a few years ago.
Miss Billington herself said that the work at Bernard Moore's was very limited in outlook, but they had to be able to paint a pot straight away, "which meant using the brush quickly; and such a training in the rapid use of the brush was was invaluable." This piece shows assurance and maturity in an artist in her early twenties, and her painted decoration was always good. Moore was famous for his flambé glazes, and like William de Morgan before him did much research into glazes and glaze chemistry.
Aileen Dawson, Bernard Moore: Master Potter, 1850-1935, Richard Dennis, 1982
Please click here if you would like to subscribe to my newsletter