Continuing my highly personal and very small selection of potters from Art in Clay, the fair at Hatfield House that took place last weekend. Two slipware potters today and a maker of porcelain.


Rosalind creates slipware pots and figures in the tradition of 17th and 18th century English country pottery. They’re made from red earthenware and coated in a white clay decorated in green, brown and blue. These country pots were made for presentation and decoration. They had curious names – tygs, posset pots, puzzle jugs and wassail bowls. The centre piece at the top of the picture is a wassail bowl. “What is a wassail bowl”, you may well ask. Wassailing was going from door-to-door, singing and offering a drink from the wassail bowl in exchange for a gift. Carol-singing at Christmas is all that’s left of it. Rosalind takes the ornate decorations from this folk tradition, with multiple handles (useful for passing from hand to hand among intoxicated wassailers), corn sheafs, hares and a modeled figure on top, whom I take to be Ceres. From the decoration on this beautiful pot, I guess that it’s a harvest wassail bowl.


Niek and Pim’s pottery is in Steyl, a village near the River Mas in the south east of Holland. They are a regular fixture at Hatfield. They work in the same materials as Rosalind Smith – red earthenware covered in cream coloured clay and decorated in green, brown and blue – but they use the materials in a different way, producing quickly-made kitchen pots, freely decorated with trailed lines and rapid brushstrokes. Here you will also see the turquoise slip that has recently crept into the slipware potter’s palate and which I also saw on other stalls. 


Susanne comes from Germany every year to exhibit at Hatfield and she has strong English connections, having trained with Nic Collins and Svend Bayer, who fire in big, wood-fuelled kilns that take days to stoke up to top temperature and days to cool. The stoking is continuous and big kilns require a team working in relays. The fierce fire and smoky atmosphere are necessary to achieve the delicate colours of Susanne’s porcelain. She says: “I put all of my love into my work and I try to make new pieces for everyday use. I hope that people can enjoy their meals eating out of my pots.”
Three more potters tomorrow.

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