Monday, 28 September 2015


Pilkington exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. 
This was probably the most influential event in its development of artistic products. 
William Burton took a small party of artists to show off products that include floor tiles, wall decorations, fireplaces with hearths both with low relief, raised outline and printed form.

Designs by Walter Crane, Frederick Shields, Lewis F. Day, C.F.A. Voysey, F.A. Steele and John Chambers made up the valuable cargo that crossed the channel.
 Wall mosaics were also shown as was pottery with glazes by William and Joseph Burton.
Its stand proudly proclaimed;

PILKINGTONS Tile and Pottery Co. Clifton Junction MANCHESTER.

The floors of the stand were tiled and the quatrafoiled columns that held up shallow Norman Arches were adorned with architectural exterior tiles. These were holding aloft corbels that were decorated with the Pilkingtons emblem proudly emblazoned in lustre, below a ceramic cornice.

The Senses, a series of panels by Walter Crane which were painted in slips by John chambers and were set, framed within architectural ceramic Ionic pilasters, and with its ceramic apron and cornice was a work of art within itself.
This enabled them not only to show their work but to compare themselves to competitors, and to get themselves acquainted with developments and trends in other parts of Europe.
The main development that came from this journey south into Europe was that they acquired the right of use for designs by Alphonse Mucha.
The Paris office of Pilkingtons revealed that they had the use of 20 designs a year but it is not clear just how many of Mucha's designs were in fact used.

At the 1901 Glasgow Exhibition four panels entitled Les Fleurs were shown.
A set of these also decorated the hall way of the Pilkington factory, they must have been highly prized until the 1940's when the factory was redesigned.

In Liverpool a massive tile panel was conceived by Pilkingtons  own artists made up of five large murals depicting pottery through the ages and photographic evidence remains at the factory and at the Walker Art gallery where it was installed. During World War II the building was badly damaged, though the tiles themselves remained intact they were destroyed when the remains of the building were demolished, no doubt to make way for a cafe.

Pilkingtons tiles were on the ill fated Titanic.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Rossetti painted maidens with eyes like pools.

He painted temptresses and beautiful damoselles, he painted beauties that he wanted to bed.
He was inspired by drugs and alcohol and he was mortified by criticism like a schoolboy would be.
He would let himself down badly by exhuming his wife corpse to retrieve a book of poetry that he had buried with her because he was so overcome with grief.
And then he was not.
His three main muse that he painted were from different backgrounds, one was a prostitute another a wife and the other a wife of one of his best friends, his forbidden love, Jane.
His father was a political radical who had to leave his home town because of his views and the failed uprising of his town in 1820.
He was born in London and took up the modern practice of the time, of being enticed into the past.
The past of Arthurian legends and great Knights doing great deeds by saving damsels in distress.
But he was the son of an exile and his father wanted to return to Italy to rejoin the revolution. He became frustrated.
He rebelled at the Royal academy lacking the patience to study and he joined, along with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais The Pre Raphaelites and they played out their Arthurian ideals. He was named after the doomed poet Dante.
With the formation of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood the rules were simple.
To produce work, through a code of honour spelt out in their manifesto.
To have genuine ideas to express, to study nature, and to sympathise with what was heartfelt serious and direct in past art and produce good art and sculpture.
Before Raphael art is self expressing they proclaimed and they wanted to return to simple art. Flemish art would also inspire them and the fresco painters of the medieval past showed them the way to the future. Rossetti would cross Van Eyk with Botticelli in 'Behold the Handmaiden of the Lord'. The paint was thinly applied and full of symbolic meaning with its claustrophobic set up.
His ideals of women would take him on his own journey, but his critics did not care for the Pre Raphaelites flatness and Rossetti hated them and gave up this style.
Not surprising when you see 'The Childhood of the Virgin' by Rossetti, it is rife for ridicule because it is so average.
Charles Dickens mocked with the idea for a Pre-Gallileo society. Rossetti was paralysed by this sort of critique. The ongoing forces of progress would not stop and all around him the Brotherhood turned away to a purple idealism of romantic Teutonic knights emblazoned with colourful tunics that they reconstructed.
Yet they said they were Pre-Raphael.
Libby Siddel would define the look and Dante found Beatrice in her.
 She worked in a hat shop and modelled for another, for the famous depiction of Ophelia, which was detrimental to her health.
Rossetti wanted her for himself and while Gothic grew up all around him they withdrew into their own style.
His intimate drawings were like sonnets and his moralising scenes like 'Blackfriars Bridge' were contradictory .
“I am thoroughly indisposed to innumerate anyone's condition by means of pictures”.
Fanny Coalforth entered his life while out walking she flicked peanuts at him and she agreed to model for him. His work became erotic and sex became to sell.
“The mouth that had been kissed loses not its freshness as it renews itself as does the moon” he wrote on the back of 'Bocca Baciata' a picture he painted based around an old Italian tale of promiscuity.
He looked to the Renaissance for inspiration and he fed Lizzie with Opium and then married her in 1860. Their daughter was stillborn this haunted him for the rest of his life. He would hear ghostly footsteps from the depths of his soul. Noises from outside the door, footsteps of his daughter.
Lizzie was destroyed by the tragedy and she never recovered from an overdose of Laudanum.
 She never woke up.
In the coffin Rossetti placed the manuscript of his poems and he moved from Blackfriars to Chelsea. He suffered from Insomnia.
 He put together a menagerie with rabbits peacocks and wombats, and other unusual creatures. They regularly escaped. He continued to paint. Fanny became housekeeper model. Her loose hair infatuated him, her hair symbolised looseness and to the Victorians his work sold.
He painted 'Beata Beatrix' showing Lizzies movement from earth to heaven as Beatrice which he ladened with drug induced images that he was not comfortable with.
He painted other versions for his private patrons.
John Ruskin said the work was as course as the prostitutes who modelled for them.
Rossetti then began to write poetry and he wrestled with the fact that he had buried his poems and he then took the disgraceful turn when hired people to dig up Lizzies body and the dirty deed was badly done. He scraped his dirty little bunch of poems clean of putrefaction and put in disinfectant for weeks to quench the stench.
 In my opinion it was sick and unforgivable act, to do this unsettling and disrespectful thing to someone he had loved.
He was then selfishly, as usual, spurned on and was now inspired by Jane Morris.
now understood desire whether it be unrequited, and his expressions opened up through his poetry.
I have to question how genuine were his loves and how much was just plain inspiration to give himself fame and immortality.

James Buchanan said there was no soul in the verse, only body. Ugly bodies of writhing foaming impure art it was said.
The critics said it was impure art from the well springs of impure life. They were right.
He was labelled an adulterer and a libertine and his self worth was hit.
In the poem 'Lost Day' he tried to sum up his paranoia and the lost souls of his mind, and he overdosed on Laudanum.
William Morris turned a blind eye to the help Jane gave him.
Was he mad, would we call him a smack head today.
He was nursed back to health by Janie Morris and William left the country after they took a joint lease on Kelmscott manor.
It was here that they enjoyed an idyllic summer together and he was recharged.
Jane was not daft, she knew what her image meant to her and she posed as 'Prosperine' for prosperity, the supermodel of her day.
She swanned around in long velvet gowns and conjured up this sense of style that would endure through the art of the many Rossetti'an Femme Fatale.
The 19th century was a time of repressed sexuality that he was able to key into using muse to paint with titles such as 'Helen of Troy' or any other historic deity he chose that he could fit his stunning beauties into.

By now his art had nothing to do with Raphael, it was Bohemian London in Style a reinvention of the past for a modern age that now looks so old fashioned to us in the 21st century.
Jane's children strangely called him Uncle Dante and he moved away from Kelmscott and into depression.
He tried to invigorate his art with dancers and brighter callers but a darkness had entered his work, it was where his head was at and he wanted to continue in this vein.
His many patrons, many of whom were based in the Merseyside area where not happy with this lack of cheerful work.
He lived for love and at 53 he died in a quagmire of addiction.
He left behind a legacy of nostalgia and dead end one directional work that went one way down his own street. Some remarkable work.
But he did not provide us with this look into the fields which is where the impressionists took us. He had no desire to get his hands dirty, even for his filthy desecrated poems. But he gives us a glimpse into his own uneasy struggles and desires that were his dream like sequences.
He was too romantic by far he must have studied Byron and myths.
Picasso said he was influenced by Rossetti (and Cezanne!) and the Pre-Raphs.
It was like Gabriel Dante Rossetti was painting his own epitaph for us all to see.
But was it quite warts and all or a carefully selected section of his head played out with style and audacity?
I keep on seeing his work around the museums of Liverpool. There was a major exhibition of his work in 2004, maybe? It seems so long ago now.
 The Death of Beatrice was said by Paul McCartney to be his favourite painting when he exhibited there. (Or when he paid for the privilege by donation). This exhibtion was around the time of Linda's illness.

Most of his high paying patrons were in Merseyside and because Lord Leverhume was an active collector of his work the Lady lever art Gallery, named after his wife, houses many works.

No matter how exotic and sexy his paintings were.

I will never forgive him for exhuming the body of his wife even though most of the critics seem to have done so


Thursday, 25 June 2015

Bronze Caryatid Pillasters 9ft High-Piece of the Week

These Caryatid are 9 feet High and pretty fantastic and would grace any Belgravia mansion.
The feet are clawed and they may be a depiction of Minerva the goddess but I will have to do a bit more research on that
They are 9 feet high and in the right place would make more than a statement. I think they may be eastern European.
 Not sure how they got to the North West of England.There are not many things that I can buy that would Grace the beautiful Travertine marble arcade of India Buildings but these actually outdo the architecture. The term Caryatid relates to a column or a pillar carrying the support on its head and was used in ancient Greece.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Antiques Roadshow Valuation Dates and Venues 2015.

Antiques Roadshow will be at the following venues for the rest of the season please see link below for more details.
Fiona BruceWhy not take that treasured heirloom along or even that old piece that has been laying unloved underneath the stairs for years. 
Whats your story? 
You may not have one but why not let an expert help you understand the item and get it appraised.

Sunday 21 JuneBroughton Castle, near Banbury, Oxfordshire
Thursday 25 JuneBowood House, Calne, Wiltshire
Thursday 9 JulyBolsover Castle, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Sunday 19 JulyWalmer Castle, Deal, Kent
Thursday 30 JulyBalmoral Castle, near Ballater, Aberdeenshire
Thursday 3 SeptemberTrentham Gardens, near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Thursday 10 SeptemberLyme Park, near Stockport, Cheshire
Sunday 20 SeptemberHanbury Hall, Droitwich, Worcestershire
Wednesday 28 OctoberThe Royal Hall, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

David Bomberg-Was He A Good Artist Or, Just There?

I am not quite certain why I decided to find out more about the artist David Bomberg maybe I was just a bit intrigued by one of his paintings or his life which was different and eventful,
 Or maybe I am annoyed that he shot his toe off and escaped the war where many died.

Studying at the Slade School of Art Bomberg (1890-1957) along with several other artists of note he was part of the establishment from an early age even though he was from a poor background, he was destined to be noticed.

The end of World War One, and a generation would try to overcome the scarring by trying to build a new world. 
David Bomberg would fight in that war and his splintered life would never be the same.
He unlike some of his fellow Slade pupils, would go largely un-noticed until his death.
 He was born in Birmingham but he was moved to St Marks Street London along with his 11 siblings to a Jewish quarter. 
His father Abraham was a gambler who got annoyed at the slightest thing.
Bomberg was always drawing and he become an apprentice lithographer.
 He paid Walter Sickert for lessons and he sat for John Singer Sargent the society artist.
He then had stepped into another world and Sargent helped him to aim for fame and fortune. The Impressionists of the Continent was dismantling tradition and in 1910 Roger Fry's Impressionist exhibition was followed by another which featured Braque and Picasso.
 Henry Tonks became one of his tutors.
Bomberg was funded by the Jewish Education Aid Society after an initial rejection his education began in 1911, at a new dawn of art. Modernity had arrived.
Tonks who would say “I shall resign if this talk of cubism doesn't cease, its killing me”. 

Tonks was a stickler he had also tutored Paul Nash who he had also criticised. 
Christopher Nevinson and Stanley Spenser would study while Tonk's was teaching.
 In 1912 'Island of Joy' became abstract in form, a move away from his past influence. 'Vision of Ezekiel' of 1912 the year of his mothers death paid homage to his Jewish roots. 
This piece of modernism grabbed hold of the revolution and he went geometric and avant-garde. His work was jarring and aggressive and he disturbed the other students.
 He was ousted at 23 years old. 

 'In the Hold'. You would not know this was a set of workers in the hold of a ship without being told. 
A vibrant kaleidoscope of colours violently reacting with his surroundings its an explosion of chaos. No wonder he was thought a misfit.
War broke out and the likes of Wyndham Lewis would BLAST in a manifesto for the avant garde. It was meant to be a clarion call to the nations Vorticist tendencies. Blomberg would not joint the club he was a maverick of one. These visionaries of desire would strip detail away and throw it all up in the chaos of experimentation. Bomberg's expo in the Chenil Gallery saw him proclaiming his ow manifesto.
 I reject everything in painting that is not pure form” he said.
 He titled one painting 'Ju Jitsu'. One work was hung in the street “The Mud-bath” inspired by Brick lane baths it was framed with bunting, but this was an all singing all dancing Union Jack. The three colours of red white and blur was framed within a beige and unceremoniously split by a central black column. It must have looked bizarre in the time of 1914 just as war was declared between Austrian Hungary and Serbia after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

He enlisted in The Royal Engineers and married Alice and then went to fight at The Somme. He got a lesson in double quick step to carnage. His snatched sketches show him studying the conflict but he also wrote poems, that sum up his thoughts in prose.
War is a leveller to art, art is stripped back to raw emotion. To those who fought and those who didn't, but also those that can convey the emotion of death.
I have not read his war poetry but it is well documented how he talks about fattened maggots feeding on the lost. His monochrome sketches done in the boredom before the bomb, he shot himself in the foot. He was withdrawn from the front. He escaped the death that many had, but he gained the title of a coward who would leave his fellows to fight for him.
'Sappers at Work' was commissioned by the Canadian War Memorials fund, that made up for the rejection of his poetry by all the publishers. His breakdown seems to show through the brushstrokes. He uses Caravaggio's Martyrdom of St Peter as a metaphor to the 'Death of Peter by Crucifixion' and uses the memorial to show the strife the sappers had in carrying out their deadly death dig below ground, tunnelling away below they laid their deathly mines and blew all to kingdom come.
In 1923 he went to Jerusalem in Palestine where a tenth of the population were Jewish. He was still traumatised and he painted 'Rooftops' in geometric form. These quiet pictures gave way to depictions of Zionist pioneer camps. And just like those world war crater scars the quarrymen build their new developments in the sunshine. In Bomberg's mind.

He was shocked by the Armenian Genocide and he painted the inside of the church that he was smuggled into.
He paints shapes in quick succession and when the earthquake struck chaos ensued, the painting he was doing in a house was shattered moments after he left.
These pictures were never accepted by the art establishment.
His work is housed in the Borough Road Gallery and it houses Sarah Rose's collection.
In 1928 back in London he met Lillian Holt again and they wed. He went to Spain to follow the footsteps of El Greco. His work becomes fast and huddled in the way he paint landscape in contrast to his Palestine pictures. Does he finally leave his shell shock behind. In Ronda children were born and so was a new style where the past and the present was indistinguishable. He paints a bridge over and over again, maybe a metaphor. He was not to know the deaths that would come from civil war on that bridge, people would be tossed over to their death.
He returned to London. And his self portraits continue.
 His double headed portrait of 1937 seems to echo in Francis Bacon. He has two faces are his own reflective past showing his awkwardness and his unsettled thoughts. He would not paint much longer, and London would be under siege. 'Evening in the City of London' is an energetic and quickly charcoaled study from the top of St Brides across from St Paul Cathedral the symbol of the defiance of the blitz. He would not give in.
Bomberg started a art class after the war where he taught two nights a week. His Borough Group were fed his philosophy for the spirit in the man. Miles Richmond would be part of this group but it fell apart soon after its formation in 1947.
Holocaust survivors would daub their emotions in structured chaos of the inner self. The thoughts of crucifixion of Bomberg as the Messiah. Gustav Metzger who arrived as a Kinder transport refugee would make 'Auto-Destructive Art' a film of 1965 using his declaration of an alternative to painting by spraying acid on to canvas.
In 1965 a set up. These burning acid canvas would give way to images of St Paul's. Metzger recently said about Bomberg who taught him “he was poetic and prophetic if nothing he had charisma”.
Bomberg was sacked from his teaching position in 1953 and went to teach in Spain. It never worked out. He always wanted to paint with an economy of means. While the Vorticists held retrospectives his health faltered. Distance does not exist he said as he closed his eyes. He was taken back to London where he died. The arts council held a survey of his career bringing together 72 works. His last self portrait is a tragedy of doom laden rejection. Holding his brushes he did not look in the mirror.
He told his students that great paintings could change the world.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Vienna Bronze Lizard-Piece of the Week.

This bronze reptile is so lifelike I could swear it just went to bite me.
The bronze is mounted on a real shell, that only adds to the realism of the piece.
It is not signed, but it has to be by the famous Bergman foundry it is so realistic. Though there were many other foundries that employed similar skill in and around Vienna Bergman is the most well known for cold painted bronzes.
 It looks like it is going to launch itself off that shell anytime. 
Bergman always tunes his cold painted bronzes to perfection. This is more than likely late 19th century.
 Though this piece is not cold painted but has a light patination this mirrors the scaly cold blooded skin of a lizard to perfection.
 The modelling and the way the bronze is mounted just heightens the anticipation in the lizard, its claws are in fact balancing the whole sculpture along with the tail. 
Very cleverly done and a joy to see the skill of manufacture being put to an effect of realism.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Lusitania Medal.

Lusitania Medal

This Friday 1st May is the anniversary and a tragic date in Maritime history. It is 100 years after the Lusitania set sail for Liverpool.
 It would not reach its destination. 
On May 7th it would be torpedoed and sunk by a German Submarine.
I offered this medal for a competition in the Liverpool Echo some time ago and it is no longer available but I do feel emotional every year when the date comes about and I start to think of the tragedy.........................................................................  
 It’s a small medal in a box that was struck nearly a hundred years ago.

Despite its size and at first glance, it is quite innocent looking,  this piece of history tells us fathoms about the era in which it was made and the tragedy that it represents.

I recently visited Cobh on the Irish coast near Cork, were passengers had once boarded the Titanic for its maiden voyage where there is a memorial to those that died on the Lusitania.

The medal was struck by the British and "copied" from the original, that was made after the deplorable act of the sinking of The Lusitania on 7th May 1915 by a German U-Boat, killing 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard, leaving 761 survivors.

It is said that it is an exact replica of the one that was struck by Karl Goetz for the Germans to commemorate the atrocity.
It was made in 1916 some time later than the original which was made privately in August 1915.
It was said that 500 German medals were struck and a limited circulation took place.

British copies were of die cast iron and were of poorer quality than the original. The original Goetz medals were sand-cast bronze. Belatedly realising his mistake, Goetz got the date wrong and the original German medal was dated ‘5 Mai’ Goetz quickly issued a corrected medal with the date of "7. Mai".

The Bavarian government suppressed the medal and ordered their confiscation in April 1917.
The original German medals can be identified from the English copies because the date is in German, the English version was altered to read 'May' rather than 'Mai'. After the war Goetz expressed his regret that his work had been the cause of increasing anti-German feelings.
One side of the medal showed the sinking of the Luitania laden with guns with the motto "KEINE BANNWARE!" ("NO CONTRABAND!"), the other side showed a skeleton selling tickets with the motto "Geschäft Über Alles" ("Business Above All").The replica medals were produced in an attractive case claiming to be an exact copy of the German medal, and were sold for a shilling apiece.

On the cases it was stated that the medals had been distributed in Germany "to commemorate the sinking of the Lusitania" and they came with a propaganda leaflet which strongly denounced the Germans and used the medal's incorrect date to claim that the sinking of the Lusitania was premeditated.
The head of the Lusitania Souvenir Medal Committee later estimated that 250,000 were sold, proceeds being given to the Red Cross and St. Dunstan's Blinded Soldiers and Sailors Hostel.

There had been an advertisement placed in an American paper warning of the risk to passengers travelling on Cunard Line.

U-Boats were the new threat to shipping.
U-20 sank the 6,000 ton steamer Candidate. It then failed to get off a shot at the 16,000 ton liner Arabic, because although she kept a straight course the liner was too fast, but then sank another 6,000 ton British cargo ship flying no flag, Centurion, all in the region of the Coningbeg light ship.
The specific mention of a submarine was dropped from the midnight broadcast on 6–7 May as news of the new sinking's had not yet reached the navy at Queenstown, and it was correctly assumed that there was no longer a submarine at Fastnet.
Captain Turner of Lusitania was given a warning message twice on the evening of 6 May, and took what he felt were prudent precautions.

There can be n excuse for this barbaric act in the early days of the First World War before new style Naval warfare, and the new U-Boat threat had been understoo.
But it is also a fact that Britain wanted America in the First World War and this unholy act is cited as one of the main reasons that America entered the war on the side of the Allies.
Churchill then Lord of the Admiralty knew of the threats to the Lusitania and it was said he was away playing golf, it has been rumoured he ignored the threats. 
Posters were also produced. It says a lot about the cruel nature at the time where both side splayed with propaganda that cost peoples lives.

The RMS Lusitania was funded by the British Government and had a contract that it could be commissioned by the Navy.

It was estimated that it took 16 minutes to sink 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale.

The contemporary investigations both in Britain and in the United States into the precise causes of the ship's loss were obstructed by the needs of wartime secrecy and a propaganda campaign to ensure all blame fell upon Germany.

The reason why we the British would strike a medal and distribute it, is, a sinister act itself. 

Argument over whether the ship was a legitimate military target raged back and forth throughout the war as both sides made claims about the ship and whether it was a legitimate target.

At the time she was sunk, she was carrying a large quantity of rifle ammunition and other supplies necessary for war, as well as civilian passengers.
Several attempts have been made over the years since the sinking to dive to the wreck seeking information about exactly how the ship sank.
It was on its way to Liverpool and one of its bronze propellers is on display near Liverpools Albert Dock.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Hille Table Designed by Alan Turville.

A Hille Table designed 1968 by the companies staff designer Alan Turville LSIA.

The table is somewhat revolutionary.
 It is amongst the first domestic pieces of furniture to be made from Bagasse' and the step towards reconstituting materials that would otherwise be wasted.
This would of course reduce unit costs in the post war austerity years and lends itself to production on a huge scale.
This unfortunately is a step away from craftsman based manufacture and towards the realm of robotic production.
Bagasse is the waste that is left over from sugar cane after the extraction. The material is then resin bonded and the Bagasse becomes a strong stable easily moulded material with many uses.
Bagasse Products Co Ltd is a company that was set up in 1964 by Tate and Lyle and Hille.
 They developed the new easily mould-able material they called Bagelle where resin and other materials are bonded.
 This yields a powder or sheet material that can be easily cut to shape and then veneered.
Melamine impregnated paper or fabric is then attached.
 Inside the mouldings provisions can be made to bond fixings such as screw threads or bolts.
Simple, perhaps. Too simple for my liking as a craftsman.
 From this moment on a simulation of a table walnut or mahogany top would creep into the minds of the public.
When this material is laminated it is then that it becomes a material they called Bellamine.
The table is easily put together and would be easily carried home by the customer.
This makes storage very easy as the goods can be warehoused or stored out of the way with just one object needed to tempt the buyer.
The stem fixes to the leg which in turn attaches to the lipped top.

The lipped edge means it will not spill fluids or spills from the top onto the floor.
It is impervious to damp unless you abuse it. The top is resistant to heat and will take hot dishes maybe even the Pyrex ones.
We know the sketch now, we have all put together shelving systems from Scandinavian firms, but this would have been something out of the ordinary in the late 50's leading through to the 1960's.
Hille invested in HIA Plastics Ltd that made the rigid polyurethane foam used in the manufacture of chairs such as the polypropylene chair designed by Robin Day.
Like the table, parts of it could be interchangeable for different styles of base.
This shell, for this chair could be mass manufactured and therefore could be made in huge quantities and has sold well since 1963.
Alan Turville was co designer with John Lewar, of a wall storage system that won the Design Centre Award in 1965.

How many people were put out of business because of these new methods?

Was this the beginning of the end of cabinet making?

What happened to the craftsmen who were training the apprentices?

Probably working in MFI turning out the rubbish they made, what always makes me laugh is the pathetic idea of making water penetrable and damageable fibre board into units to go underneath a sink!

There's progress for you.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Original Yellow Submarine Artwork Goes Up For Sale.......In Dallas Texas.

In an Auction ending on 9th April, a rare piece of Beatles Folklore will be sold by Heritage Auctions of Texas. 
An original Cell for the 1968 film The Yellow Submarine.
A cell short for celluloid, is the transparent sheet images can be drawn on for animation purposes. They can be laid over static background drawings to reduce the number of redrawn images needed.
 It is Ten inch high by Five and a half inches wide 
The Yellow Submarine film was released in 1968 to showcase the band’s music and the album of the same name followed six months later. John, Paul, George and Ringo battled the Blue Meanies in the paradise of Pepperland, travelling through rough seas in their submarine.
 I was not a fan of the film but it is a piece of our recent history. And the fab Four are hot for collectors. 

Friday, 27 March 2015

Pilkingtons Vase Decorated by Richard Joyce-Piece of the Week.

I have owned this vase for some time now and have never been able to sell it. I have had the chance but always held it back. It always seemed to work in with my decoration. I always had a spot for it.

A beautiful creation by Pilkington decorated by Richard Joyce the best decorator at Pilkingtons at the best period in their creative history.
The glory of Pilkingtons lustre ware has for some time been eclipsed by the work of the William De Morgan factory.
Because they made so many different styles, that covered a large time span, I feel, people pigeon hole the wares. Maybe that's understanding as there are many differing qualities at Pilkingtons and a plethora of commercial work.
Is the marketplace finally appreciating the lustred ware of Pilkingtons?
The factory was formed almost by accident in 1891, when discovery of clay at Clifton, five miles north of Manchester.
This discovery, in the colliery, owned by J and J Evans, which the Pilkington Brothers ran on their behalf.
The Red Marl clay was found during faulty coal mining engineering at, what was known as the Pendleton fault, and it was thought this could be used for bricks.
A rather better decision, was made, to make tiles and the Pilkington Tile and Pottery company was formed.
William Burton was brought in, he was a young chemist who had learnt his trade at Wedgwood.
He had studied chemistry at the Royal School of Mines at South Kensington.
The operation was set up in the most professional of manners. The Pilkington Brothers had no experience and left the running up of the plant to William Burton and his brother Joseph who joined him 1895.
It had good canal and rail links and was a good spot for ready labour.
Burton hired the many specialists from his contacts.
Burton had been an examiner for City and Guilds examination board and his theory that potters should be trained in workshops and not schools was to be implemented.
His beneficial experience brought in a style of management that was to help and encourage the workers. He took care in their welfare and training.
Some workers were taken to see the Paris Exhibition of 1900 and students were sent to art schools, expenses paid.
Joseph the younger brother was a renowned expert on early pottery, especially Chinese.
He was, the main experimenter with glazes, and his work has often been eclipsed by the bolder steps of his older brother.
1893 after two years of tile making began several small pottery experiments had gone well.
Trade increased and in 1896 and a new slip house, grinding plant, tile plant, bisque oven and placing shed were erected.
It is debatable as in the order of good potting, whether it be the science of the glazes and its effect on the clay, or the art of the craftsman and decorator. Yet, you can not have one without the other.
Potters around 1900 were now being led by the advances of the scientists. They could no longer ignore these leaps in chemistry and the public wanted the new, or in this period literally the style of the New Art or Art Nouveau. With the commitment to the new style what better than to commission designers of note such as Walter Crane, who it has been claimed, rightly or wrongly, was the very first pioneer of the style.
At the 1901 Glasgow Exhibition the company showed four panels with designs by Alphons Mucha.
C.F.A. Voysey added great company to their stable of designers.
There began an obsession with colour. Looking back retrospectively this period of the 1890's was a period of the impressionists and Manet and Matisse.
This is a period of intense commercial competition and the commerce was being led by inspiring palettes of colour, mostly led by chemists, something new and different....that sold.
The various niches were filled not only here but on the continent of America who had taken up the arts and crafts ideal.
Europe was changing, new styles highlighted borders and heritage, as well as a new take on that past, such as the salt glazed designs of Henry Van De Velde in Belgium.
Theodore Deck, did fantastic Persian inspired work as did William De Morgan.
Lachenal in France with his velvet blues, Dalapayrat even had a colour named Dalpayrat Rouge. Many others on the continent, not only in France, were causing sensations with new unique wares.
There really was an international run on the New Art.
The public lapped it up decorating their houses in the Art Nouveau.
So what of the historical references to the most basic of tasks, making a vessel.
Decoration to pots possibly came before the art of cave painting by the simple incision in clay, and the decoration of a utensil. I believe this is incised in our DNA. In our primeval inner core of sensibility. Abstract art began in primitive times, well before we can reach back justifiably with confirmation.
Gordon Forsyth, it is said, saw the twisted and bent steelwork of the British pavilion of the Brussels Exhibition of 1910 and immediately was inspired to design lustre glazed pots with sweeping swirling depictions of flames in lustrous colours, already stabilised by the chemists.
So now the work of chemistry became as important as skill.
Many new art factories knew what they were doing and the public wanted this new art.
Back in Lancashire. In 1913 there were twenty four tile kilns, seven biscuit ovens and three ghost ovens all functioning well.
At some point, a different white earthenware, combining china clay, flint, from France, ball clay and china stone, that was imported from Cornwall Devon and Dorset by ship and then barge.
The company had its own wharf and a storage facility that facilitated the weathering and the maturing of the clay.
The company made a profit, but in 1905 saw a £124 loss just as the lustre ware was about to go into production. Only pottery decorated by glaze was being made at this time.
During the First World War tile production diminished a loss of £13,516. But soon the company returned to profit. 1920 saw a profit of £28,047 and it prospered until the economic downturn of the thirties saw the closure, except for prestigious contracts, when the pottery was all but closed.
From 1917 production of pottery fell from 10.5per cent to 1.3per cent of production. It had always been a small scale enterprise funded by the prosperous side of the company.
The lustre wares an even smaller enterprise within.
Lapis Ware, much easier to produce, was introduced in the late twenties.
In 1937 the company was renamed Pilkingtons Tiles Ltd with the cessation of pottery production. During The Second World War they even annealed steel bars under government contract.
They were even asked to carry out experiments on pottery bullets by the war office.

Revived in 1948-57, they never recreated the past glory of the pottery wares and closed again.
The tile business merged with Carter and Co of Poole on 1964, companies with similar histories of tile and pottery production. Combining the both companies, Lancastrian pottery started production in 1972 but closed 1975 using some of the shapes from a broad spectrum of wares from 1904-38.
The company is still making tiles on a vast scale.

So what of my vase and who was Richard Joyce.
He was born in 1873 in the hamlet of Boothorpe near Blackford, Derbyshire.
He studied at the Swadlincote school of art, he had, at one time worked for Bretby, run by Henry Toothe. He had also worked for Moore's Brothers. He moved to Pilkingtons in 1903 where he remained until his death in1931. His work is always of the finest quality. He mainly decorated the pieces with animal and fish studies. He was a unassuming man by all accounts. He was an angler for sure, nobody has told me this, but I know that he was. Within this vase he has captured the gravel bed river scene, from below the water. Its as if, you have cut a vertical slice into the river, and have been able to join the creatures. It is clever depiction of Dace amongst the flowing reed beds. And what convinces me he was a fisherman most? It is the single Grayling that is there.
When fishing, or river trotting for Dace, a small but lively breed, in shallow but fast running section, you sometimes have to get in the water, and feel the current. Slowly trotting a waggler float down to the jittery and easily spooked, but beautiful fish. You sometimes see them darting around you as you quietly creep closer. Like silver doubloons being spun through the water. You will catch a couple of Dace, if you are lucky and then a few more and then you will catch a different coloured one, as if by surprise you catch a small but strong more colourful fish of the river, the Grayling.
Related to the game fish more than the course fish there are always a few that shoal with Dace.
As if, by return compliments, the same thing happens within the shoals of Grayling you will catch the odd Dace.

They don't grow that large but are great sport on light 1lb line. Richard Joyce saw all that. 
Its like he was in the river with the fish. A very clever touch.     

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

St Georges Everton.

St Georges Everton.

Everton was once a suburb of Liverpool and in the 1820's hat had a setting of what we would now think of as picture postcard.
Thomas Rickman, St Georges architect did not start out as an architect he had a journey that led him to design buildings that was quite unusual.
He was a pharmacist and a surgeon and also worked in the corn trade.
When he lent money to a friend who could not pay it back, he left his home town of Maidenhead and came to Liverpool looking for work in 1807.
After his second wife and their daughter died he seems to have been free to drift into different studies. Weather, geology, gas lighting, steam boats and drawing all got his attention. He may have been what we would now say, on the autistic spectrum, he was a meticulous accounts keeper. He painted and catalogued a whole army of toy soldiers probably lead.
Collecting engravings he began to study architecture and he studied and recorded Gothic churches and their ruined state.
In 1812 he delivered a series of lectures and was elected professor of architecture at the Liverpool Academy.
His friend Thomas Cragg owned the Mersey Iron Foundry and waxed lyrical about the use of cast iron in architecture.
Rickman sketched architectural details such as windows door frames and balustrades for him.
As simply as two friends talking Rickman began to draw a cast iron church, they were kindred spirits in design. His designs at this stage it could be said were not quite top work and were stiff in design. This was an early stage of iron construction.
Mr Atherton had promised £12,000 for the building of a church on the site of the old Liverpool lighthouse and on 29th December 1812 a public meeting was called.
Rickman attended the meeting only to be shocked and astonished that Cragg was submitting a design of Rickmans own sketches.
This proved a master stroke as Mr Atherton gave the commission to the pair on the understanding that the exterior be built in stone and the interior be erected in cast iron.
This enabled them to pre fabricate the structure and bolt it together on-site.
One commentator stated that the structure 'exhibited a very marked advance upon anything previously attempted in Liverpool-the tone character and motif of every part being derived from a careful study of ancient examples'.
Gothic architecture at the time had a wide breadth ranging from Norman to Henry VIII.
Architects could do what they liked with it.
Some Gothic structures were a derision of classical wrapped up in a confused fusion of many differing styles.
Iron was cutting edge at the time and when we analyse it, there appears to be that the medieval oak and stone ribs of ancient times were being replaced by slender columns of iron.
With an ease of construction this was being explored well ahead of Ruskin's eloquent dissecting of Iron's pros and cons and how it would fit into the modern forms of construction in his Seven Lamps of Architecture.
The challenge in the blending of the old with the new is something we now take for granted as it all looks old now but the debate would be intense.
Rickman began to publish papers in Liverpool showing his understanding of his work that were to be inspiring to others.
An attempt to discriminate the styles of English architecture from the Conquest to the Reformation, proceeded by a sketch of the Grecian and Roman Orders, with notes on nearly 500 English Buildings was published in 1817.
Years later Ferguson was to write ' by a simple and easy classification Rickman reduced to order what before was simple chaos to all minds'.
So the Gothic was born of Rickmans work and was championed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.
Cragg also built St Micheals in 1814 with even more iron used. Many of the mouldings were from St Georges. The exterior is of brick. Parapets and finials of iron. It was called “the cast iron church”. St Philips in Hardman Street followed in 1816. From these three buildings stems the seed of the prefabricated cast iron church and the onset of mass production so from this little acorn of an idea buildings were shipped all over the world. Some sections could be replicated over and over again, and from a single mould.
At a time of great expansions in cities nationwide it came at a very convenient time to produce quickly churches for the masses. This need was combined by the “Million pound Act” to get ecclesiastical buildings erected quickly to educate the masses coming in from the fields no doubt.
Rickman worked with John Foster junior on a commission for St Martins which is no longer standing.
Foster was not a purveyor of the Gothic style.

I did not realise when as a young boy, along with the rest of the class, as we were led into the church like little lambs, silent lambs, from the side directly adjacent to the school of St Georges how important it was.
It was a solid building that wrapped around you with protective care, friendly and self assured, we didn't know we were poor.
As a small child born into a two up two down, the first sight of a church interior is awe inspiring. The scale those uprights supporting the roof were like giant pines reaching for the heavens.
The play of light through the bejewelling of the stained glass with its storytelling panels was always designed to bring you to a subservient situation. The torch of coloured beams searching, and finding you, in between the columns of pews. I still remember to this day my first sighting of the interior of St Georges with the angelic sound of choristers raising your spirit, bringing you closer to what you were told to believe in. Those pointed arches and the fine and light decorated tracery. I did not know I was in one of the most important churches in the country. I remember my neighbour staring up at me and winking to me as I showered him and his newly married wife with a handful of confetti from the roof of the exterior porch. I remember the christening of my cousins and the crying over the font when touched with that holy water from within.
I don't know if these memories that are torched into my mind are what made me understand that even in poverty you can still look up to the stars, and even though we were poor we were in the middle of an area of St Georges plateau that had great care and fine workmanship bestowed upon it.
I would often stop at Everton Library on the way home, that is still standing and hopefully will be restored soon. Unfortunately The Luftwaffe didn't understand the maintenance programme of our architectural stock, and blitzed the gubbings out of it.
Most of the stained glass was destroyed in the Second World War survivor is a window dated 1863 by A. Gibbs. The glass in the east window dates from 1952 and is by Shrigley and Hunt.
The original chair frame bell was made by Ainsworth of Warrington. It was restored in 1937 by George Eccles but vandalised in the late 1960s. The present clock was made by Smiths of Clerkenwell and installed in 1973.
In the next street to our humble abode was Our Lady's, the beginnings of the church that was to rival St Peters in Rome. The chancel chapel was built, it was going to be massive. It was demolished in the 80's, how sad. It was a Pugin and Pugin design. This was the original site for what Arthur Dooley christened Paddy's Wigwam. St Georges may have been the most prominent structure on Liverpool's skyline prior to Gilbert Scott's Anglican sandstone Cathedral being built. How mariners will have been thankful to see the sight knowing they were safely home. Probably having been press ganged in the Baltic Triangle area, which was renowned for this form of kidnap to keep the seas highways safe for the British Empire.
There were other Pugin buildings that had fallen into disrepair, the wash house was a hive of soapy gargling conversation spun together by the washerwomen within. It was a social thing.
I would sometimes get a treat and be given a tanner and go over to the cubicle d public baths where someone in the next bathtub would sing “My name is Jack and I live in the Bath” as a take on the hit of the day.
The smell was a slightly carbolic one, that of cleanliness and running hot water was a luxury we did not have, nor an inside loo.
Mr Tyson the builder used to run a boys club in one of the buildings behind the steaming wash house.
I did not know we relied on charity and philanthropists. A caged football pitch was built in between the school and the house, on St Domingo Road, as somewhere the kids could play and we played 9 a side football, that was sometimes a little light on one side depending on how many turned up.
The Prodi dogs against the Cats we would all have enough incentive.
It was stupid I know now. How pathetic it seems now that there was such a monumental battle still ranging amongst the Popery and King Billy's lot.
It raged all around you people tried to indoctrinate you at an early age.
Though it did not take long for me to see through all that religious none-sense
And my church, my lovely little church was part of that too.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Mersey Tunnel-Art Deco Architecture In Liverpool.

The Mersey Tunnel Entrance’s

One of the world’s most ambitious engineering undertakings of the time.

The Mersey tunnels connecting Birkenhead and Wirral with Liverpool.

Opened by King George V on 18th July 1934.

Extensive piling was required in the main vicinity of the entrance of the Liverpool side.
In 1715 gates were built across the mouth of the Pool at Canning Place to give Liverpool its first dock.
 Liverpool had been tidal up to the point of the entrance of the tunnel at that date.
The total cost was 7,750,000 pounds. The Ministry of Transport contributed 2,500,000.
In 1922 a report was put forward to table a motion for the appointment of a committee of six to enquire on a scheme to improve transport facilities
A bridge or a tunnel would be considered.
A bridge was to cost 10,550,000 pounds. This would add superficially and in the event of war would prove a vulnerable target.

The Port of Liverpool would then be inaccessible.

The tunnel was considered the best option. Winston Churchill, then at the Treasury, offered a change of heart and the 2,500,000 was finally agreed as capital for the project and permission was given to charge tolls for a period of no longer than 20 years.

They still charge today and the project flawed from the start has never paid its way.
Herbert Rowse was appointed architect to the Joint Tunnel committee in 1931.
 His former teacher Sir Charles Rielly complained that he had been set a thankless task and not being involved from the outset his work was compromised.

The Haymarket entrance had been sited wrong in his opinion, slightly to one side of the axis with St George’s Hall. 
Rowse had been set the task of decorating a hole in the ground.

“The engineer too often thinks he can call in a Architect to cover up his mistakes to add pretty things to hide them”.
Said the Liverpool Review in August 1934. I have to agree how much more symmetrical the whole area would look today if a proper process had been undertaken.
Rowse showed again that the style needed was an Art Deco style, which fitted in perfectly with interpretations of speed and function. 
This style also shows its American masculinity, which Rowse was also familiar with. Walter Gropius praised the functional dado of black glass and stainless steel, which ran through the tunnel for its simplicity. 
The Pegasus ornamentation sum up “a mood” of the time.

It looks almost like an Egyptian scarab design.
 Rowse would go Egyptian with The Georges Dock Ventilation.
The lights look as if Edgar Brandt had designed them in France.

The Birkenhead Entrance still retains its Pylon but the Pylon from the Liverpool side is said to be buried in a Council Yard.

 Wayne Colquhoun c2015