RYE POTTERY

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Tidying up my papers, I came across this old postcard, which I’d picked up at Gary Grant’s shop in Arlington Street behind Sadler’s Wells. The shop has been closed for many years, but I liked to pop in when I was going to the theatre to look at his excellent collection of mid-century pottery, especially his collection of Rye Pottery. These are Rye butter dishes.

The Rye Pottery was set up by Wally and Jack Cole and thrived after the war, capturing in their bright, whimsical ceramics the spirit of he Festival of Britain. They made tin-glazed tableware and decorative figures, which were very much of the time. The same spirit was expressed in the contemporary pottery of the Bayswater Three, William Newland, Margaret Hine and Nicholas Vergette, who made a good living decorating the interiors of coffee bars. This sort of pottery ran against the Leach current of Chinese-inspired stoneware. Newland found Leach’s dominance irritating but the Coles just got on with it. Their pottery still exists in Rye, still making tin-glazed wares.

Walter studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in the 1930s, when Dora Billington was teaching there and at a time when she was making exquisite tin-glazed ceramics, and he was subsequently a member of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, of which she was a leading member. Rye was a rare example of a commercially successful craft pottery. Kenneth Clark and Ann Wynn-Reeves ran a similarly successful enterprise, concentrating on tiles but also making use of decorated tin-glaze; and they were also graduates of the Central pottery course.

 

NICHOLAS VERGETTE TILE PANEL DISCOVERED

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.

POSTSCRIPT
More details about the tiles, with pictures, here.