A stoneware bottle with modernist decoration
Signed to base
Purchased from eBay by Adam Sutherland
"I first saw Ambleside Pottery in the Armitt Museum in Ambleside, a small museum which specialises in all things local, unfortunately not the things people are so interested in. They have a lot of Beatrix Potter drawings, unfortunately the botanical illustrations of fungi (nice though they are) and several Kurt Schwitters paintings - unfortunately his inept portraits of local people (interesting though they are). They have a lot of Keswick School of Industrial Arts, mostly the wrong stuff (the lightly modernist stainless steel rather than the arts and crafts period), interesting though it is."
The bottle is a local product of some integrity which is reason enough to include it in the Collection. It is categorised under the Branded collection as an example of a rare and honest local brand that is actually produced in Ambleside by George Cook who was born, brought up and worked there. This piece could have just as easily been listed in the category When modernism goes bad as a scarce local example of that style.
George Cook ran the Ambleside pottery from the early 1950’s to 1968 developing a refined technique not dissimilar to Lucy Rie and Hans Coper. He was brought up in the area and his brothers ran local hotels. Cook’s masterwork was the bar at his brother’s Crooklands Hotel, sadly lost in a renovation to turn the hotel into a local farmyard/bygone conference facility. There are still a few of Cook’s pieces there that have slipped into the spurious world of ‘redundant equipment’ and are now mistakenly displayed as obscure farmyard memorabilia. Cook sold the Pottery to Brian Jackson in 1968 after which became ever more tourist orientated, employing local painters and producing some truly horrific mugs. The most dreadful ones are those by acclaimed local scene painter Jill Aldersley, whose mass- produced quaint scenes of Lake District farms and landscapes can be found across the world.
The pottery closed in the 1980’s.
Ambleside pottery was a popular landmark in the town from the 50's through to its closure. The pottery in its early days produced stoneware pottery before turning to earthenware as a brighter and cheaper mode of ware. The distinctive style, based on scraffito through a manganese glaze (also employed by Lucie Rie) was developed by George Cook and continued as the house style after Cook's retirement.
"In their words the Museum reflects local culture, I couldn’t agree more" Adam Sutherland
Their website seems to heavily feature young girls grasping beer taps.