Wednesday, February 18, 2009

take a look...

Mark Hill is an Antiques Roadshow and Millers Guide expert who recently gave me some advice on which books to buy for helping attribute studio pottery marks. As well as publishing his own books, about West German pottery (Fat Lava) and modern art glass, he has a blog of his own. Do pay him a visit! p.s i just love that he's put a link to the Scissor Sisters on his site, "just because".

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Deco Chinoiserie

Chinoiserie designs - that is, designs which use 'Chinese' / oriental themes have been popular for many centuries in the West. The trend has come and gone over the years and here is an example of an Art Deco period chinoiserie design. Bishop & Stonier did a number of designs on a black background at this time and it shows off the other really pretty colours in the pattern. This jug has just joined my collection and is wonderful for floral displays because of the wide neck. It would have originally have been part of a wash set, so if you happen to have a matching bowl at home, do get in touch! The hand coloured enamels are really very charming and are infact exactly the same pallette as a vase in my collection which I blogged a few years ago. On ebay this week is a bowl from the same period and same pattern, but a different colour palette. The shape of this bowl seems to crop up a lot at this time, with similar pieces produced by many different factories - i personally have seen shapes similar by Carter Stabler Adams (early Poole), Rialto ware, Hancocks, Cauldon to name a few.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

BBC Homes and Antiques Magazine - hurray for technology!

I have been an absolute devotee of the BBC's Homes & Antiques magazine for several years now and have a huge pile of back issues by my bed for some bedtime flicking. Infact, it's the only magazine that once it enters my flat, it never leaves again - unlike others such as House & Garden which gets recycled after a few weeks. I occasionally visit the website, but hadn't paid much attention to it, assuming it was just a brief summary site of the printed magazine. What I hadn't discovered until this evening, was that you can search back issues and Antiques Roadshow programmes for valuations of your chosen subject or maker. On searching for Stonier I found that in 1990 someone had taken their mothers collection of Oriental inspired plates by non other than Powell Bishop & Stonier to be valued. Whilst I was mightily miffed that I was NOT the first person to take PB&S along to a roadshow, and that actually someone had beaten me to the line in getting a piece filmed :-( , i was still thrilled to see that there was some credit given to this fab factory.
On the subject of the Antiques Roadshow, I can happily say that I had a dream come true moment on Sunday and appeared in the background as Hilary Kay was being asked about her "What would you save in the event of a fire?" interview. Did you spot me?

Pomegranates - (Punica granatum)

The image of the Pomegranate has a long history in art and design so it's no surprise that Powell Bishop & Stonier would use it in some of their own transfer designs. The popularity of the fruit in artistic circles waxed and wained, but it would be fair to say that at the time this plate was made, it was on the "up". As mentioned in a blog posting a couple of days ago, Moorcroft used the fruit on his pottery, also, William Morris incorporated the fruit in several of his wallpaper and fabric designs and impressionist painters such as Paul Cezanne used it in Still Life studies.
The symbolism of the fruit is varied, but in general it is seen as a symbol of fertility and goodness because of its many seeds - it has held religious connotations in Medievil art and can be found in various depictions of the Madonna & Child. The design of this particular Oriental Ivory plate (below) appears quite traditional in form and layout - a central motif with a foliate border which contains some of the same elements as the middle image. What interests me, however, is how we can see at this period, transfer designs are becoming more and more stylised, almost "graphic" in their qualities - linear. Although this design is a long way off some of the deco fruit and flowers pieces some 35-45 years later, it shows the beginnings of a style that uses 'motif' to represent an idea - in this case, Oriental nature.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

learning curve that hit a brick wall

I have recently bought this beautiful studio pottery bowl at a local antiques&collectables fair and no doubt, the keen eyed among you will realise that no, it's not by BISTO (this is becoming a bit of a theme for this blog of late - my apologies if you're a die hard Bishop & Stonier fan and are becoming bored with my forays into more modern territory!). I fell in love with the bowl's shape and texture which reminded me of the work of Hans Coper and Lucie Rie. I say, "reminded", but i have never seen one in the flesh so to speak, only in pictures. But this piece just spoke to me. After purchasing a guide to British Studio Potters Marks and systematically devouring every page, i'm afraid to say that i'm still none the wiser as to who made this bowl. I have drawn up a short list of names where the marks given in the book have some similarity to that on the base of the bowl, but i must admit, i find it difficult to work out from mark books what part of the mark design is raised, incised, impressed etc. Also, on the bowl itself, what bit is part of the mark itself and what ridges of clay are just displaced clay around the potter's seal. So, here it is - perhaps like on previous occasions i could trouble someone to help me out with the attribution. Many thanks.

Monday, February 09, 2009


If you are anything like me, you will hold you hand up and say, "my name is Joe Bloggs, and I am addicted to pattern". Strange that I should say that because looking through my wardrobe of mainly plain blues, greys and laterly purples, you would more likely have thought me rather conservative and 'safe' in my design choices. But in my defence, I work for a highstreet fashion chain where the options for suitable uniform are limited to plain colours, basic stripes and muted checks. By the time i get home and slob out, it's more likely i'll slip on a comfortable pair of jogging bottoms than a fancy paisley number, so pattern has been restricted to other areas of my life - wallpaper, cushions, curtains, ceramics. I have just added another ginger jar to my collection and thought i'd share with you the fabulous oriental inspired design. I use the word "oriental" advisedly because it conjures up images of a vast land mass with a myriad of cultures all jostling for attention. Most often for Western ceramic design, Oriental has meant coming from or inspired by China and Japan - most notably with Blue & White pottery & porcelain. But the Indian subcontinent too has had an impact on Western design as cultures and colonial powers clashed and then merged. Asia's influence has identifiably been felt in textiles design - Paisley type patterns were made hugely popular in the late 19th / early 20th century because of retailers like Liberty's. Although this is not a Paisley design, there is something of that trend in this piece which incorporates fruits like pomegranates, leaves and flowers (Moorcroft collectors will know how popular these motifs were at that time). Added to the printed design are the vibrant, Asian influenced colours. These colours can be found on a variety of other BISTO designs and their combination on this piece is particularly pleasing.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

More Fuji Yama

Arrived this week was another Fuji Yama patterned Flow Blue vase. As you'll know, i'm a complete-ist and like having groups of things, in this case, all the shapes produced with the same pattern. I was reminded of a comment my partner made about a section of his book collection: Barnett Freedman illustrated covers, he said that "two is a pair, three is a collection". So, it looks like i may need to find one more!

Kensington P.B

There are various ways in which I search for Powell Bishop & Stonier items on the internet, and particularly on internet auction sights. One way is with the letters "p&b" in the pottery and porcelain section. There are usually several other things that come up alongside Powell & Bishop when doing this kind of search: Quimper, Limoges, Pinder Bourne, and Price Kensington Bros pottery which is sometimes marked as K.P.B. To add to the confusion, Powell Bishop & Stonier produced wares with a pattern they called "Kensington" so you need to sift through quite a bit to find the ones you want. When I was thinking about this confusion and cogitating a blog posting on the subject, i checked the picture files saved on my computer and found several with the pattern name of "Kensington", but bizarrely they're not the same. In short, i don't know how/why i've saved them with the same pattern name, when they are clearly not the same patterns. Perhaps this was how they were described on the sites i took the pics from. To have different patterns using the same name is not unheard of across different manufacturers - as mentioned previously, "NANKIN" was used as a pattern name by several potteries. But to hear of one factory using a pattern name over and over, except with actually different patterns would be very odd. Any ideas? Maybe it's simply a slip up in my admininstration!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

HELP NEEDED! Celadon ?

Ok, so this is another non-PB&S collection piece that has snuck its way onto my shelves and into a blog posting. The thing is, I need some help with identifying this one and after the success i had with my Dianne Cross vase (thanks Archimandrill), i thought i'd put this one "out there" to see if anyone can help!? It may just be modern-ish, or even an attempt at fakery, but my hope is that this is more than it appears to be. It is very simple in form and colour - kind of a light grey - but that may actually be an indication of its true identification. I'm hoping it will turn out to be a piece of old (very old?) Chinese Celadon ware. Certainly, the crackling of the glaze is typical of Celadon wares, and although unusual because it's grey and not green, the colour is within the realms of possibility for Celadon. The shape, is very simple and striking, like much of early Chinese ceramics - bit it's quite tall, so i don't know if it's just TOO tall to be the genuine article. There are no markings or indication of date. There is a small chip at the base rim, which bizarrely, has been glazed over rather than the potter throwing the pot away. In fact, the glaze is so thick towards the bottom of the vessel that you can't even feel the chip because the glaze pools to fill it. The base is glazed within the circle of the bottom wheel rim. The crackles are not uniform in colour, some are quite dark, and on close inspection you can see small bubbles in areas of the glaze. All this info is given because i'm hoping it will help someone identify this piece for me and put my mind out of it's ignorant misery! Where is David Battie when you need him? ( or Lars Tharp - he's a wizard of the Oriental stuff too).
Ru Ware? i wish....Guan ware? who knows, "i know nutting"

About Me

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Sometimes, life doesn't turn out the way you expected. And sometimes, it is exactly as it was 'meant' to be. But whilst i'm not a believer in fate or fatalism, I do believe that life is a both a learning experience and an obstacle course to be climbed and clambered over in the most creative way possible! In doing so, you'll get to where you should be even if it's not where you'd imagined.