Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Freeform or Contemporary?

Leslie Hayward, author of the definitive Poole Pottery reference book, was behind the counter during viewing at the Cottees auction last week. I asked to see a rather nice contemporary vase from the cabinet. "You got it right, you didn't call it freeform" he said. What did he mean?

Freeform Vase with traditional decorationWell, it is noticeable that almost anything from the Alfred Read period is now likely to be described as freeform. In fact, this title should only apply to a limited range of shapes designed by Read and Guy Sydenham in 1956/7 specifically for flower arranging. There were eight different shapes (illustrated on page 100 of the Hayward book), all asymmetric, and all slip cast. They were available in contemporary patterns, but also with traditional floral decoration, in monochrome and in twintone.

Contemporary VaseThe contemporary range, on the other hand, combined mainly symmetrical hand thrown shapes with a fantastic series of abstract geometric patterns, which perfectly captured the spirit of artistic revival that was prevalent in Britain in the mid 1950's. Contemporary patterns, some designed by Ruth Pavely, were also applied to tableware and the freeform shapes.

Another related bugbear: I keep seeing "Alfred Rhead". Wrong! Rhead is Charlotte Rhead, who worked for various Staffordshire potteries in the 1930's and '40's. Remember, there's no "H" in Alfred but there is in Charlotte!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Poole Pottery Auction

Todays blog comes to you "live on location" from Poole itself!

One of the biggest events in the Poole calendar, if there is such a thing, is the Cottees Poole Pottery auction in Wareham. This takes place twice a year, in April and October, and tomorrow is the day of this autumn's event. Today has been viewing day, so what is on offer this year?

Top estimate is for a Phoebe Stabler designed figure "Shy Girl" at £2,000 - £2,500, probably dating from c. 1920. Phoebe Stabler was the wife of Harold Stabler (of Carter, Stabler, Adams) and was herself an established sculptor and designer. Prior to joining forces with Carter and Adams, around 1918, the couple regularly exhibited their works at the Royal Academy and many of their pottery figure designs were produced under licence by Royal Doulton and Royal Worcester, amongst others. There is also a Phoebe Stabler Picardy Peasant figure in the sale estimated at £1,200 - £1,400.

There are no really spectacular vases in the sale, although a 23cm, shape 596 YE pattern art deco 1930's vase is being estimated at £1,000 - £1,500. This is a popular pattern but it is hard to see it achieving this amount in today's market.

An unusual item is a Tony Morris architectural slab, which is said to have been one of the first items Tony produced for Poole after he joined in 1963. This was positioned on the east elevation of the old East Quay factory and was removed when the factory was demolished. Fortunately the east side must have been fairly sheltered and the slab has survived in good condition. This is estimated at £400 - £600.

The sale contains a private collection of Guy Sydenham pieces, both from his time at Poole and other work. There are some nice Atlantis period pieces, although the hedgehog estimated at £200 - £300 has some minor damage and may not reach this figure.

For more modest pockets there is a fair range of Barbara Linley Adams stoneware figures, 1920's glazed animal figures and various Aegean, Delphis, contemporary and traditional pieces of all periods. Happy bidding!