Bowls by Murray Fieldhouse (V&A Museum)

I learned today of the death of Murray Fieldhouse, an important figure in post-war studio pottery who edited the magazine Pottery Quarterly, the first periodical on the subject, which came out irregularly from the mid-1950s to the early 1980s. He was also one of the founder members of the Craft Potters Association.

Murray was born in 1925, and after an unconventional wartime national service, when he became a pacifist, he alighted on the crafts as a way of living out his Utopian and anti-establishment ideals. The choice of pottery came later. He served an apprenticeship with Harry Davis in Cornwall, who was also an anti-establishment Utopian, but more austere in his habits than Murray, who was well-known for his enjoyment of life.

In the 1950s, Murray ran Pendley Manor, an education centre in Hertfordshire to which he invited most of the top names in studio pottery to demonstrate. When I was researching the life of Dora Billington, he gave me some photos of her demonstrating there.

Pottery Quarterly in its early days contained reviews of everything that was happening in British pottery and it is an important record of the period, but Murray was a fierce advocate of the Leach style of pottery and his reviews of exhibitions by potters who didn’t follow it became harsher over the years. Nevertheless, he was a close friend of William Newland, who was not in the Leach circle and didn’t like his artistic dominance.

Another of Murray’s initiatives was the Dacorum and Chiltern Potters Guild, of which he remained honorary president until 2009, when he retired and the job passed to Mervyn Fitzwilliam.

7 thoughts on “MURRAY FIELDHOUSE

  1. Thank you for writing this. Murray was my fathers ( Henk van Amstel) best friend since i can remember. So i called him uncle Murray. A great loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Marshall, such a lovely write up on Murray. Please can I use your words above in our next newsletter? I am membership secretary of The Pitstone & Ivinghoe Museum Society (PIMS) and Murray was a long-time member. Best wishes, Bill Barnard.


    1. Hi Bill. I’m glad you liked what I wrote about Murray. You’re welcome to use anything on my blog as long as you acknowledge me as the author. I spoke to Murray on the phone but never actually met him in person. His reputation went before him. Kind regards, Marshall.


  3. My colleague Brian Hickman lived in Pitstone and used to talk about his friend Murray. I’m pretty sure it was Murray Fieldhouse as Brian was a potter.


  4. I was just thinking about Murray today and looked him up online. I was a student of his in the ’60’s and I went on to become an Art teacher specialising in ceramics and sculpture. His influence gave me the joy of ceramics which I was able to pass on to many other young people.


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