Stealing from ceramics

Like most people before the pandemic and the restrictions and the lockdowns, I used to go out. I went out locally as well as further afield to visit churches, museums and galleries always looking for inspiration for my work. Medieval sculptural details and the patterns painted on Victorian stained glass, so common in our parish churches, have been a great resource. However, for the time being most churches are locked and entry is not permitted.

Naturally, like many people working from home I have turned to the Internet and have found viewing online Fine and Decorative Art Sale Catalogues very worthwhile. These catalogues often have great photos with good colour showing off the beautiful detail that can be found on unusual antiques such as this Carlton Ware vase by Violet Elmer (1907-1988). (And, to my surprise, Violet had a link to Suffolk as her great-grandparents had lived in Scotland Street, Stoke-by-Nayland, Suffolk, in the early 19th century. There is an interesting article in the East Anglian Daily Times about a couple of collectors from just outside Ipswich who have filled their home with Carlton Ware and hunted down some biographical details for Violet. She was born in Oxford in 1907 and moved to Stoke-on-Trent in 1928 to work as a designer at the Carlton Works. Sadly, for us, she stopped work in 1938 when she got married.)

Carlton Ware ‘Fantasia’ by Violet Elmer. Lustre and gilt, 18 cm high. circa 1930/31. Sold April 2017 for £439.

This fine example of her work is vase decorated with exotic birds (disappearing round the top righthand edge), flora and foliage on a pale plum ground. I think it is both beautiful and charming and you could imagine that perhaps Violet Elmer had herself been inspired by a Victorian millefiori paperweight. The shape of those little flowers is so typical of millefiori.

Millefiori paperweight. Glass. 1832.

Inspired by or maybe stealing from artists from the past has a long tradition and I am happy to join in and make my own reinterpretation in a different medium.

It is just a pity that the silk I have painted was for those unglamorous, yet currently necessary, face coverings.

Inspired by a ceramic vase design.
And, another version.

PS – I actually painted these silk pieces during the second lockdown and have only just made them up into masks. Lockdowns have seemed to roll one into another. Sigh. And, now I hear they’ve cancelled Glastonbury and UEFA are also proposing this summer’s tournament to only take place in one country (and I have tickets for a game in Glasgow) and, well, Easter? 🤞🏻 Who knows!

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

18 thoughts on “Stealing from ceramics”

  1. Yet again, I’m fascinated by your creative journey as you seek for inspiration, and then turn what you’ve seen into something that is very much your own. I knew nothing of Violet Elmer. I like what I see. And I like what you’ve created!

  2. A great pleasure to read this post and admire all the colours that you took from the work of Violet Elmer. Even in lockdown there are beautiful objects to gladden our hearts.

  3. Wow. Just wow. Your fabric! And your story reminds me of an older mystery I read about 6 months ago and whose name my tired brain has forgotten, already, but it involved a young woman ceramics designer in Stoke on Trent and was set in the same time period as your designer’s career. I got a lot of info on the industry as part of reading this book and it sounds crazy but it made me appreciate violet’s work and your adaptation even more.

    1. Thank you, thank you. I thought you might appreciate the link with a ceramicist. We know Stoke on Trent as the Potteries. Some of my father’s relatives lived in the area and had a clay pit that he remembers visiting as a child in the 1930s. Sadly, his parent’s lost contact with that part of the family and my father, now 87, can’t remember any of their names.

  4. An amazing story of connection and artistic stimulation Agnes. Visiting the real thing as in Art galleries etc is a huge cultural downside of the pandemic. Our public galleries have only recently opened up fully with mask, distancing and cleaning requirements.

    1. Wow, lucky you. I feel as though I will never get out and visit anywhere every again at the rate this wretched virus is ripping through our country and now they are saying the ‘new’ Kent variant is not only more transmissible, but more deadly. Keep your borders secure and keep safe.

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