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

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Lorenzl Bronze Figurine-Piece of the Week

 Lorenzl is a name that anyone familiar with Art Deco will instantly recognise.
 I used to think they were twee, but I am warming a bit to the better ones.
So what makes the better ones stand out.
Well its all about movement.
Often Lorenzl as sculptor tries too hard, but its an easy fix to be seduced by a beautiful dancing lady wanting to jump off the base.
I say that not meaning them in a sexy way because I don't believe that is the way they were intended, but more an emancipation of women some decades after the Suffragette movement had fought and won the vote.
 Most of my figurines that I have sold over the years, and there have been many of them, are actually bought by women, or at least they have the decision as they will be the ones who normally have to be  around them and not be upset or intimidated by the female form. This piece is often called Arabesque. No, I don't know why either. Maybe its her costume styling? She is certainly a bit slim for a belly dancer.
So what can you expect to pay for a Lorenzl in to days market? They have shot up in price the smaller ones seemed to be £250 forever and then as if overnight they went to £750 and beyond. a large version (68cm) of this sculpture recently made £8750 at a Christies South Kensington sale. But you need to look at around a thousand pounds to own a similar one to this beauty. But be careful there are art deco fakes out there.