Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Talk at Churchill Fellows Day

Sadie showing sherds of North Devon pottery
On Saturday I gave a talk at the South West branch of the Churchill Trust - a Fellows day, attended by previous Churchill Fellows and members of the group.
I was invited to speak, to present information about my experiences on my Fellowship in 2010. It was a nerve-wracking time and I was third on, just before lunch so had to speak when everyone was hungry and following the news that England had lost the World cup semi-final!
The talk was very well received and there was a lot of interest - so much so that all through lunch there was a constant stream of people waiting to talk to me and ask me questions, which was great.
The picture above is of me in full flow, showing the 35 people or so in the audience some examples of sherds of pottery I have found locally since my return. The start of the Green House Ceramics Collection.
I had a good chat with Bill Nicholson who organised the event and who also took a group photo at the end of all the speakers to post onto the Winston Churchill Trust web site - watch this space!
Overall a very good day and it left me inspired to do more talks and to continue collecting sherds, sharing what I can find out about North Devon Pottery and its export and to continue to develop the Arts exchange programme with Manteo NC.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Visiting John Allan in Exeter

I took a selection of items from the ‘GreenHouse Ceramics Collection’, including an assortment of gravel tempered plain ware (a baluster pot, rims and handles, glazed and unglazed) as well as some prized pieces of sgrafitto.

It was such a joy and pleasure to have someone else look at the pieces and offer up some response, explanations and information.

John was particularly interested in the baluster pot sherd. The bottom half of this tall jar, a piece 5 inches tall with a diameter of 4 inches. I talked to him about the pot I saw in Virginia with Karen Shriver at the Flowerdew Hundred collection. That one had been identified as being dated around 1625. John commented that these pots were only made in the 1600’s and not any later, so my sherd is quite a find!

We discussed the sgraffito pieces in the context of the designs that were being produced in the 1600’s and alongside a book that John gave me – a 2005 Devonshire Association publication which included an article part written by John about a site in Bideford that was excavated on the former Stella Maris convent school site. Here 17th and 18th Century pottery was found and photographs and drawings had been produced of the sgrafitto (and plainware) found there, it’s distinctive and common patterns. It was possible to look at these images with my sgrafitto sherds to indentify which patterns and designs featured. These include the geometric, leaves, floral, and spiral patterns. John explained how a compass was used to layout the points for leaves so there was a uniform shape and size all the way around a vessel such as a plate.

At the end of the visit, John was encouraging me to keep adding to the collection – and though I might consider some time to donate some pieces to someone else’s collection - he does not know of another collection from the Instow area, so mine is the first and deserves to be continued for some time yet.