Friday, 9 November 2012

Julia Carter Preston Sgraffito Plate-Piece of the Week

Her Wheel Keeps On Turning.

I haven’t used it yet and it’s a bit old fashioned and cumbersome and I am used to using a Shimpo wheel but I will get around to setting it up and throwing pots on the wheel that Julia Carter Preston actually used.
It is nice to interact with her history by either owning some of Julia's work or as in my case using the actual tools that she used to create her sgraffito ware that she was famous for. Though she never exhibited at the V&A she was well known to the insular Liverpool crowd of art collectors.

Entering into her studio shortly after her sad death and taking out objects that were personally used by her has given me a detailed insight into her techniques and how she fired her pieces.
I actually don’t think I will try and emulate her works they are a little too feminine for my style but it is interesting relating backwards by seeing the glazes and oxides she used. I tend to want to create more classical shapes of which the job is still very much a work in progress but is coming along slowly but surely.

This groupment of objects left, just as she used them, gives you a real insight into how she arrived at her finished article, a little like looking at an equation for a mathematical answer. What good is the answer if you don’t know how it is arrived at?

Of course most of her clients who bought her work will have no concern about her use of lustre’s in any other way as a description but an inquisitive mind is always needed if you are to progress in any journey that involves building up a skill.

I only came across her occasionally at various openings and events and every time she extended an invitation to call in for tea and I never did, although I extended an invitation to Peter Elson who jumped in like a long lost friend and did an article about her treasure trove of artefact's antiques and mementos of a life in Liverpool  It is a shame he never took up the campaign to save Julia's Uncles The Herbert Tyson Smith studio in the Bluecoat when it was under threat. see previous post

With a reputation of the daughter of a father who was a rather good sculptor and medallist.
The Edward Carter Preston name can be seen in cartouche on the Bronze plaque, the death plaque from the First World War, that he designed, that was given to next of kin as a memory of the part played by so many brave soldiers who lost their lives in the name of  Britain and the cause of Freedom
We have yet to see a full exhibition of his work other than small accumulations on occasional show, but when we do we will be able to understand him more and know how his daughter had to grow up in an environment of creativity in a more gentler age.
She didn’t really need the money and she didn’t charge a lot but her reputation was slightly diminished by allowing herself to be pushed into an exhibition of work that was previously rejected.
Her gallery took the short-term commission and have irrevocably damaged her reputation in exhibiting later work that was inferior.
 It may have been her elderly status and the need to create that kept her going. But it seems the gallery pushed her to into selling seconds after her prices raced up after a mention by one of the pumpkins on the Antique Road show, who said she was one for the future.

I stood while a queue formed at a Private View at the Bluecoat Display Centre and there was actually a scrum to get in and the rush of red labels that were stuck to her work surprised me especially as they were some warped and badly decorated pieces flying off the shelves.
I stood with Julia while a woman ran around with a tile in her hand shouting, “I have got a rabbit, I have got a rabbit”

Julia turned to me and said “Stupid woman that is a Hare….it just shows you how much she knows”

That summed that particular exhibition up for me.

The undeserving who didn’t know what they were looking at were now her principal patrons of her work taking it out of the range of those people who actually enjoyed her for her skillful but laid back approach of which she leaves us a legacy of a body of work that will if exhibited correctly by the now trustees of her collection Hope University in Liverpool.

A lot of he work was to commission. For those who own a piece of her work, treasure it, she really did make it for you with a lot of skill and care that will see he name grow in the eyes of collectors both here in Liverpool and much further afield.

No comments:

Post a Comment