William Plumptre: New Pottery
3 May - 18 June 2006
This is a selling exhibition of new work by one of Britain's leading potters, William Plumptre. It will provide an opportunity to see pieces coming straight from his studio at Witherslack, incorporating on-glaze enamel-work, which is something of a new development for him. Working exclusively in stoneware and using traditional techniques and materials, he has developed his knowledge of the clay, its limits and its possibilities, to create beautiful, functional pieces.
Plumptre was born in Kent, and went to school in Dorset, where he threw his first pot and became fascinated by the tactile feel of clay. He attended Chelsea College of Art and then went on to serve three periods of apprenticeship in Japan, under different potters including National Living Treasure, Tatsuzo Shimaoka. Much of the decoration Plumptre employs stems from this time in Japan, and the inlaying of a pattern from cord, which gives many of Plumptre's pots their surface interest, is a technique he learned while he was there.
Plumptre has established his pottery workshop in a rural domestic environment at Witherslack in the Lake District, very much in the tradition of Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada and many of the foremost Japanese potters working today. He works with a gas-fired downdraft kiln built to his design, and uses glazes created from local woods and stones. The muted colours as well as the organic forms of his work show the influence of the area in which he lives, yet the shapes and the decoration of the pots retain their Japanese influence. His glazes typically combine Tenmoku browns with creams and whites, and cobalt blues with ash greys. His pieces are usually thrown, though he does use techniques of slab building and press moulding for some pieces.
Plumptre's work is well known in Britain, and he has exhibited widely overseas. In recent years one of his dishes was sent as an official gift to the Japanese Emperor from the British Government, bringing to full circle his apprenticeship and inspiration from Japan. Items in the exhibition can be bought through the Own Art scheme, which offers interest-free loans of between £100 and £2,000 for the purchase of contemporary craft. This is something we have been operating in conjunction with the Arts Council for two years, and it has been very popular with both new and established collectors. There is an increasing interest, especially amongst young people, in collecting original handmade craftwork and this scheme helps to bring significant works in reach of a much wider audience.