The Synge-Craven Collection of Regional Slipware

3 May - 18 June 2006

The summer exhibition at Blackwell looks at the long tradition of English and Welsh slipware pottery made from the early seventeenth until the late nineteenth century, with over a hundred pieces coming from one very special collection. the exhibition is exclusive to Blackwell, which provides the perfect domestic setting in which to see the whole range of these rare and wonderful objects.

In every large village and town there would have been a potter whose livelihood depended upon making cooking vessels, utensils, serving platters, flower pots and drinking crocks for the community. During the three hundred years or so in which slipware was widely made, specialisms developed in different potteries. Experimenting potters developed new glazes or techniques for decoration, and made new types of vessels - oddities from whistling birds to money boxes.

As celebrations of life required feasts and ceremonies, many of the pots in the exhibition commemorate and celebrate local life, and the oddities made by individual potters grew into cradles and children’s toys for christenings; ‘loving cups’ and model cottages for marriages. Many of the pots in the exhibition were made for special occasions, and are decorated with dates and names of marriages and births. These fragile yet durable remains of lives now long-forgotten make the Synge-Craven collection a rich source of social history.

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