Ceramicist

Success at the Auction!

Work is progressing well on the Creative Wiltshire & Swindon project with our research on creative people in the county, past and present, currently reaching over 400 individuals. It may be no surprise to some, but we have been amazed at just how many creative people there are out there using Wiltshire as inspiration! There’s been much interest in our project, both from members of the public and creative people alike, and we warmly welcome any information you have to offer.

We are also pleased to announce that we have purchased our very first ‘objects’ as part of the project. As you may have noticed on our pinterest site https://uk.pinterest.com/heritagewshc/creative-wiltshire-swindon/ that we have been making great strides in purchasing items such as books, but have had to be more patient with objects in particular as they are often only available through auction houses.

April has turned out to be a good month as we were able to successfully bid for a set of seven ceramics by Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie. Katherine was one of the pioneer studio potters and trained with Bernard Leach at the St. Ives pottery in 1924-5 as one of his first pupils. Her work was credited with a sound sense of shape; her gently curved vases, bottles and bowls being her signature pieces. Her stoneware flowerpots with their combed decorations were acclaimed by Reginald Haggar and Muriel Rose.

Katharine, known to many as ‘Beano’ was born in 1895 and grew up at Coleshill House on the Berkshire/Wiltshire border. She became interested in ceramics whilst living in London in the 1920s and upon her return to Coleshill began a successful period of work with her pots being shown regularly in London, Manchester, Oxford and Bristol. She also participated in exhibitions of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society at the Royal Academy and of the National Society of Painters, Sculptors, Engravers and Potters at the Royal Institute Galleries where her work was commended as having ‘unfailing good taste and a steady technical progress…’

The family gave up Coleshill during WWII when it was used to train the secret Auxunits, volunteers to act in a guerilla role if invasion took place. The house was sold in 1946 and Katharine moved to Kilmington Manor near Warminster where she resumed her potting. Katharine was noted as being a positive person with a matter of fact approach to life. Her generous spirit and good sense of humor were well known. She was always willing to share the information she’d discovered, and had an ability to transmit the sheer enjoyment of her work to all those who asked for guidance.

Katharine was one of the founder members of the Craftsman Potters Association and she was also instrumental in setting up the Crafts Study Centre at Holbourne Museum, Bath. Her glazes were very well documented and have been a source of inspiration and study for many potters ever since. Katharine died in 1985, aged almost 90.

 … I want my pots to make people think, not of the Chinese, but of things like pebbles and shells and bird’s eggs and the stones over which moss grows. Flowers stand out of them more pleasantly, so it seems to me. And that seems to matter most.

Katharine working from her studio at Kilmington in the 1950s. Photographic Collection at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Ref: P32978
Katharine working from her studio at Kilmington in the 1950s.
Photographic Collection at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Ref: P32978

Quote taken from a letter to Bernard Leach, 29 June 1930, taken from ‘Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie: A Potter’s Life 1895-1985’ by the Crafts Council, 1986, ISBN 903798 89 1, lending and reference copies available at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Ref: KIL.666

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