John ffrench (1928-2010) was an Irish studio potter / ceramic artist whose work is fantastically colourful and unique.
ffrench attended the National College of Art in Dublin after which he moved to Florence to attend the Instituto Statale D’Arte to specialise in ceramics. He returned to Ireland in 1962 where he was a founding member of Arklow Studio Pottery. In 1969, he emigrated to Massachusetts to teach and where he he founded The Dolphin Studio. However, he maintained a studio in County Galway where he spent time making each summer.
Check out eBay and Etsy for available pieces. His work occasionally comes up for sale in places such as Sotheby’s and Tennant’s Auctioneers.
At the end of this post is a very short film featuring the artist. It’s part of a 2007 retrospective exhibition entitled A Life of Colour. There’s a book available (shown in the montage above) which contains almost 750 illustrations of his work.
creditJohn ffrench video clip
from David Shaw-smith
Additional image credits:
Crawford Gallery | Pinterest
We love a bit of Iden Pottery – the subtle colours, interesting patterns and tactile surfaces. You may need to be a bit selective however, some of the early hand made studio ware is gorgeous.
We bought this fabulous lamp base a while ago, but still haven’t married it up with a suitable shade. We’ve been keeping an eye out for a cream or beige Hessian shade but alas, nothing of the right size or shape has appeared on our travels. We need to make a more determined effort – perhaps an internet trawl is required. It’s such a shame to leave this lovely piece languishing in a storage box.
Iden Pottery was founded by Dennis Townsend when he left Rye Pottery in 1959. The wares were sold by Harrod’s and Heal’s and are well regarded for their quality of design and finish. Their pared back subtlety means that they don’t scream at you from a distance – so keep your eyes peeled for hidden gems on flea market stalls or charity shop shelves.
Larger objects such as the lamp base work well as stand alone pieces in a variety of interior styles. We like grouping smaller pieces in groups alongside other pieces of Iden – or as part of a general collection of studio pottery from the same era.
Earlier this week, we wrote about a piece of Ambleside pottery we bought. Today we’re going to show you a few more examples of work by its maker, George Cook. Cook was the founder and main designer-maker of Ambleside Pottery based in the southern Lake District, Cumbria. He ran the pottery from 1948 until he retired in 1968, when he sold the premises to Brian Jackson. Between 1959 & 1966, he trained Gordon Fox who currently owns & runs Kentmere Pottery.
George Cook pieces regularly come up for sale at auctions across the UK and occasionally appear on eBay. They’re very reasonably priced… for the time being!
The 1954 Rydal Women’s Institute programme reveals how the group held their April meeting at George Cook’s studio. A pottery demonstration formed part of the event. The studio was located in North Road, in an abandoned corn mill (see bottom photo taken in April 1886) by Stock Ghyll, Ambleside. The pottery remained in existence until the 1980s. At present, it operates as the Giggling Goose Café. Apparently, examples of the pottery can still be found on the roof above the kitchen window.
Additional image credits: Worthpoint
We don’t go into charity shops that much any more, but we had a mooch in a couple yesterday – after viewing the auction at Hartley’s in Ilkley (a nice town for a day out if you’ve never been – auction, independent shops, cafes etc). We made a few purchases including this cute little vintage slipware dish.
It was made at Ambleside Pottery which was founded by George Cook in the late 1940s. This is quite an early example and rather charming, we think. They also produced some fabulous sgraffito designs which have real mid century modern style.
The pottery closed in the 1980s. It’s developing a wider following of collectors, but is still very affordable. Strangely we saw the best piece of Ambleside Pottery we’ve ever come across in Ilkley – a huge 1950s flagon-like slipware jug. It was for sale at the aforementioned auction. We couldn’t attend on bidding day, so left a bid. Alas, we didn’t leave one high enough, missed out – and have regretted it ever since!
Last week, we wrote about a vintage Bernard Rooke pottery floor lamp that we acquired recently. We also mentioned that he, at one time, shared a studio in Forest Hill and then Greenwich, London with fellow potter and Goldsmiths graduate, Alan Wallwork.
Wallwork (born 1931) is best known for his beautiful, often colourful, glazed tiles that adorn tabletops, cheeseboards, trivets etc. He also produces the most sensuous, sculptural studio pottery pieces. Often inspired by nature, these textural works resemble acorns, seed pods, eggs, slices of fruit, shells and fossils.
His art pottery pieces can often be found for sale at auction houses all around the country. The tiled items are very affordable and are always available on eBay and Etsy.
Additional imaged credits:
1stDibs | Invaluable
This fabulous floor lamp came into our lives recently.
It’s by artist, Bernard Rooke and dates from the 1960s/70s period. Bernard Rooke was born in 1938. He attended Ipswich School of Art and Goldsmiths College, London where he took up pottery. He set up a workshop in Forest Hill in London in the 1960s, sharing the space with Alan Wallwork whose work we have sold in the past. Bernard’s pieces are very sculptural and he found that producing lamp bases made his pieces even more acceptable and accessible for the public to have in their homes. They’ve remained a mainstay of his output over many years.
There are bulbs both at the top and internally, and this gives a great effect when illuminated – light diffusing through all the little holes and casting shadows on the wall behind.
We’re now on a hunt for the perfect shade. It has to be Hessian or raffia, we think – and a fair old size too – the lamp base itself stands 3½ feet tall. Let us know if you have one for sale or know where there’s one lurking. We currently have around five lamps that need shades, but this one’s probably top of the waiting list!
We’ve placed the lamp in our bedroom where it shares the space with other studio pottery from the same era. We like these little groupings of pots. They’re all in quite subdued tones of brown, beige and oatmeal so don’t shout for attention, but we love these subtle variations in colour, shape and texture.
The lamp has real impact when you walk into the room. It has the potential to work well in all kinds of settings – from boho-chic to mid century modern. In addition to working well with the other pottery in the space, we also like the way the circular form is echoed by the cane mirror. There’s a classic 1960s starburst clock on the wall close by too. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we really love it. And we know a good friend of ours will be eyeing it up jealously (and we have to admit that it would look perfect in their house)!
Here are some of our vintage furniture and homeware purchases from this past week.
We’ll start with the painting – an original 1960s oil on board. It’s entitled ‘Waterfront’ and features a harbour scene with dock buildings, cranes and lights reflected in the still water.
The artist is J. Jennings.
Next, this superb lamp by Hadrill & Horstmann. It has a counterweight mechanism which not only looks great, but works very efficiently too – the perfect design combo. The West German pottery vases & planters always sell well – especially with that distinctive flash of volcanic orange.
And more vibrant colour… this G-Plan stool with its original yellow fabric upholstery didn’t take much deciding upon.
It’s a fabulous shape too and went straight into the boot of the car!
There are slightly more muted tones in this studio pottery lamp base, but it’s no less attractive.
We’ve got a friend whose studio pottery collection is ever expanding.
She gave an, ‘oooooooh that’s nice!’, when she saw it – and has thus managed to squeeze one more piece into her house!