School of Art
Welsh Folk Craft – CeramicsThe largest section of the Welsh Folk Craft collection was devoted to 110 pieces of slipware pottery - mostly baking dishes from Buckley in Flintshire, but also including examples from Ewenny in Glamorgan, and from Staffordshire, Devon, Lancashire and Northumberland in England. The curators searched in all parts of Wales for pottery to illustrate localised form and decoration as well as regional variation elsewhere in Britain. The first slipware was purchased in 1926 and was subsequently acquired by gift or bought for between 10 and 25 shillings a piece. In January 1932 Richard Pritchard of Anglesey sold 27 dishes from his private collection for which the curators paid a massive £110 in two instalments. In that year Col. Fossett Roberts of Aberystwyth gave two very fine Fremington (North Devon) harvest jugs that were originally made for owners in Aberystwyth Ann Davies, Aberystwyth 1818 and Ann Doughton 1827.
Simple items made for everyday domestic use, Dan Jones wrote were ‘much more interesting and appealing than the work of the over-trained and often uninspired craftsmen of today’ (Annual Reports, 1926). As such the collection of Welsh craft would, it was hoped, stimulate an arts and crafts renaissance in Wales – the Department of Art and Crafts purchased its first pottery kiln in 1927. The collection of early studio ceramics demonstrated that potters such as Bernard Leach and Michael Cardew intentionally imitated or developed the methods and materials employed by the makers of 18th and 19th-century domestic slipware. ‘The craft of the potter is one that loudly calls for a revival’, wrote the curators, ‘Where suitable clay exists small kilns can easily be built without much cost, and so interest in a local pottery be fostered. It is a craft that readily lends itself to local expression. It can rapidly become “native”. This collection should therefore be very helpful in spreading a knowledge and an interest, and so aid in fostering attempts at local revivals of this fascinating Art.’ (Annual Reports, 1925)