About me

Photo ©Layton Thompson

I am a potter and writer.

When I was nine I was fascinated by an article in an encyclopaedia, "Pottery: For Use and Ornament". The historical survey went over my head, but the technical explanation interested me. This interest was stimulated by a film of The Potter's Wheel that the BBC put on in the intervals between programmes. Those who watched television in the 1950s all remember it, but I now realise that the potter, Georges Aubertin, wasn't much good.

I did A-level art but decided to read history and politics rather than go to art school. At Keele university, near the the North Staffordshire Potteries, I spent a lot of time in the art room trying to make pottery on the wheel, and after university trained at the Rodmell Pottery with Judith Partridge. I was lucky: while some apprentices worked for nothing, Judith paid me, but only just enough to live on. As I couldn’t see any prospect of starting my own pottery without savings, I developed a sideline in public administration for twenty-five years, ending up as head of economic development at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. I kept up pottery as a hobby and took a BA in Ceramics at Harrow, University of Westminster, in 2009. I set up a studio in St Albans and now exhibit throughout the UK. You can see my work on my  website.

I'm one of the few ceramists in Britain using the technique of tin glaze, whose opaque, white surface lends itself to my style of free brush decoration. Tin glaze reached its height in the Hispano-Moresque wares of medieval Spain, the maiolica of Renaissance Italy and 17th century Delft but it was displaced by Josiah Wedgwood’s discovery of a practical white-firing clay. Craft potters revived it in the 20th century. My style is modern but I get inspiration from the ceramics I've seen in museums around the world.

I write about applied arts, especially European applied arts from 1850 to the present, with an emphasis on ceramics. From my practice of making decorated tin-glaze pottery, I became interested in Dora Billington (1890-1968), a potter and teacher who went against the Leach-inspired mainstream and brought her students into contact with European and factory-made pottery, and tin-glazed pottery in particular. Billington’s long career spanned Japonisme, Art Pottery, Anglo-Oriental stoneware and the New Ceramics of the 1960s. Other potters I'm researching include Richard Lunn, who set up the first studio pottery course in a British art school, at the RCA in 1901, and Wilfrid Norton, a figurative ceramist inspired by Anthroposophy, who was well-known in the 1930s and ran the pottery department at Camberwell school of art, but who is now forgotten.

I am a trustee of the Society of Designer Craftsmen. I was winner of the St Albans Museums Trust Prize in 2013 for ceramics shown at UH Galleries and received the Judge’s Award for my entry in the London Potters’ 2017 exhibition at Morley College.


Max said...

Nice work. I just found your blog searching for Ogata Kenzan. I am a potter in Texas. butlerpottery.com
With your permission I would like to put a link to your page on my blog.

Marshall Colman said...

Thank you, Max. You are welcome to create a link to my blog.

Angela said...

Enjoyed reading about you and your work and influences Marshall. Found your blog via Herts Visual Arts Twitter feed and looking forward to seeing your work at the open studios. Best wishes Angela