3 January 2018


The García Sanabria Park in Santa Cruz is a restful evergreen space made in honour of a city mayor, though the Rambla de Santa Cruz on which it stands, with its central avenue of shady trees, is restful enough. All paths in the park lead to a fountain monument, erected in 1938, conceived by architect José Enrique Marrero Regalado and designed and executed by sculptor Francisco Borges Salas.

On one side is a relief portrait of Sanabria, on the other, in the fountain pool, is a far-from-idealised female figure, Fecundity (above), who gives her name to the sculpture. On the third side is a figure representing Work, on the fourth, a nude male (below) that struck me because he holds a six-pointed star, a symbol not to be expected in a fascist country with no Jews (Franco began his rebellion in Tenerife), though in fact the star represents The Future.

“Fecundity” has had a chequered history. Long regarded as the most significant piece of public art in the Canary Islands, in 1950 it was condemned as immoral and removed from the park until 1970. It is thought that the censorship was a cover for jealousy of Salas by influential colleagues.

2 January 2018


We stayed in Santa Cruz de Tenerife for Christmas and discovered the elaborate nativity scenes that institutions and neighbourhoods make, each outbidding the other in size and complexity. The Canarian belén portrays imagined street scenes and trades of Bethlehem, and potters are often included. I liked these, with their small, perfectly made terracotta and maiolica pots, in the belén in the parliament building.

1 January 2018


A hitherto unknown tile panel by Nicholas Vergette has been discovered in a house in England. I was contacted by the owner who wanted to authenticate it and from the photos he sent me I am almost certain it was made by Vergette. I have yet to see it, but there is little doubt it was by him. It is dated 1955 and is from the period of the plate illustrated above, in the V&A collection.

Vergette was one of the Bayswater Three, the studio he shared with William Newland and Margaret Hine, who had a successful career in the 1950s decorating coffee bars with colourful plates.

The house owner was refurbishing his old property and took down a false wall to reveal the tiles beneath, covering the entire room. More tiles were discovered in another room. This is an exciting find. The panel is larger than anything by Vergette from this period that I have seen before.  The details of the commission are unknown but there are indications that the person who ordered the tiles may have been acquainted with Newland.

I plan to visit the house in the next few weeks and hopefully will post pictures of the tiles here.

27 December 2017


These bowls with wide rims have become fashionable in recent years, and this one was used to serve our pudding in a restaurant on Christmas day. The wide rim allows the food to be shown off against the white background, and chefs now like to serve small main courses on large plates for similar reasons.

The bowl is a revival of a shape popular in Italy in the 16th century, called a tondino - but then the purpose of the wide rim was to support an elaborate decoration, and no potter would ever send a white one out of the factory. A tondino is a little tondo, a circular work of art, either a painting or a sculpture, from the the Italian rotondo, "round."

Here are a few from museum collections.

 Gubbio, c.1530. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 From the workshop of Maestro Lodovico, c.1540

 Casteldurante or Urbino, c.1535

Probably from the workshop of Maestro Giorgio Andreoli, Gubbio. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 Numerous tondinos were made with this pattern in Ottoman Iznik in the first half of the 16th century, examples of cultural exchange between Europe and the Islamic world. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

14 December 2017


After stewarding at London Potters yesterday, I went to the Slade open day. I was interested to see how much easel painting is being done. A student told that this is still its strength. There's a sculpture studio and a good range of printing equipment. There's also the option to specialise in media and there are good photo labs. But one still felt the ghost of Henry Tonks.


13 December 2017


Lyn Tillinghast

Today was the last day of the London Potters' annual exhibition at Morley College. It was the first time I exhibited with them, as I joined only a few months ago. The exhibits were of a high standard, especially considering that many of the entrants are not full-time potters.

Here are some of my favorites. I was stewarding today, which gave me a chance to take these pictures, but every time I walked round I saw something else I liked which had escaped my notice before. Several, though not all, of the entries shown here were commended by the judges. I also received a judges' commendation for the espresso cups I entered.

Lyndy Barletta

Buddy Hobbs

Simon Olley

Tushar Dawson

Carolyn Tripp

Jo Pethybridge

Ali Tomlin. Awarded Best in Show

My entry, three espresso cups

8 December 2017


One of the Hungarian ceramists illustrated in Gordon Forsyth’s 20th Century Ceramics is Lili Márkus, 1900-1960 (pictured above), who I was not familiar with. Lászlo Hradszki drew my attention to the catalogue of the exhibition of her work that was mounted in Budapest and Glasgow in 2012, which is available online.

Márkus had had a brief but successful career until she and her family left Hungary in 1939 and came to England, where they lived in Derbyshire. Her career contrasts with that of her ceramic contemporaries Margit Kovács, who adapted to the Communist regime and remained popular until her death, Eva Zeisel, who emigrated to the United States, where she also found success and had a very long life, and other Hungarian emigrés, notable Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Erno Goldfinger and Marcel Breuer, who also had successful careers. In her provincial isolation Márkus is comparable to Greta Marks, another ceramist of Jewish origin, who left Germany and settled in Stoke-on-Trent, but who, understandably, never adapted to the British ceramic industry.

30 November 2017



Apologies for the lack of posts over the last few weeks. I have not gone away. We have builders at home, who have turned everything upside down, and next week it will get worse when the roof comes off and the back of the house is knocked down. Thank goodness we got the central heating fixed before that happened.

In the studio all I'm doing is repetitive glaze tests and packing parcels to send to galleries before Christmas.

I hope to get to the Modigliani exhibition at Tate Modern in due course. He is a painter I have never liked, and hearing the curator talk about his social circumstances and bohemian life reinforced my suspicion that he is artistically negligible. But I keep an open mind.

13 November 2017


Delft tiles in Chelsea Old Town Hall

I've been exhibiting my ceramics at the Old Chelsea Town Hall over the weekend at the craft fair Handmade in Britain. Down the street in Kings Road is "The Chelsea Potter", the pub named in honour of William De Morgan, who used to work in the area.

The old town hall was built in 1908, and in the café is a fireplace with pretty Delft tiles (pictured). Where do they come from? Are they antique Dutch tiles, which they certainly look like, or are they reproductions? I don't know of any English pottery that made Delft-style tiles c.1900, so my guess is they're Dutch, especially as the Dutch, according to Alan Caiger-Smith, made 800 million of them between 1600 and 1800.

8 November 2017


I've just finished packing for Handmade in Britain at Chelsea Old Town Hall, the renowned, high-end contemporary craft and design fair which is being held over the weekend. I'm launching a new range of tableware there, inspired by Mid Century Modern and made in three toning colours, yellow, grey and turquoise. Above are three espresso cups from the range.

Chelsea has been the location for pre-Christmas craft fairs for many years, once run by the Crafts Council, but relaunched ten years ago by Handmade, who are now established promoters.

Handmade in Britain, Chelsea Old Town Hall,
10 - 12 November, 11am to 6pm daily
King's Rd, London SW3 5EE