Della Robbia: Birkenhead, Belleek, Irish delftware, Queen’s Institute, Carrigaline, Contemporary
The Della Robbia pottery, Birkenhead, England, operated between the years 1893 and 1906. Influences on the Della Robbia style came from Islamic ceramics and Italian maiolica by Cantagalli. The objects on show exhibit neo-Celtic design, and were produced for the Cork Exhibition of 1902.
The production of Belleek began in 1863, after W.H. Kerr and Robert Williams Armstrong approached David McBirney of Hibernian House, Aston Quay, Dublin to finance the venture. At the Dublin International Exhibition of 1865, Belleek displayed mainly stoneware and tableware, but also parian statuary and earthenware. During the initial stages, links with Staffordshire potteries and Worcester are evident in design.
Irish delftware is synonymous with Henry Delamain, who took over the World’s End Pottery, Frenchman’s Lane, Dublin, in 1752. He produced objects such as wall-fountains, dinner services and apothecary jars. Amongst his most famous employees at the pottery was the mid 18th-Century landscape painter Peter Shee. The demise of the manufactory appears to have occurred around 1773.
‘The Queen’s Institute for the Training and Employment of Educated Women’, Painting on Porcelain School was founded in 1870, and was based at Molesworth Street, Dublin. The impetus to establish the enterprise came from W.H. Kerr (of Belleek and Worcester fame). In 1869 Kerr invited Herbert Cooper to manage the school. Painted designs by Cooper and the women of the Institute generally consist of floral and fruit motifs.
A small selection from the Museum’s Carrigaline Pottery (1928 - 1979) collection from Co. Cork brings the story of Irish ceramics up to the 20th Century. Founded by H.W.B. (Hodder) Roberts in 1928, initial art direction came from the Stoke-on-Trent potter Louis T. Keeling. Carrigaline pottery is characterised by distinctive mottled glazes and ornamental ware of animal and bird figures.
In recent years contemporary ceramic art has developed in Ireland, a pioneer of which was the sculptor Kathleen Cox (1904 - 1972). As for the late 20th Century and today, Ireland can boast active makers that include Cormac Boydell, Peter Brennan, Pat Connor, Sara Flynn, Vivienne Foley, John French, Grattan Freyer, Geoffrey Healy, Maureen Hosty, Michael Kennedy, Sonja Landweer, Deirdre McLoughlin, Nicholas Mosse, Louis Mulcahy, Patrick O’Hara, Stephen Pearce and Martin Thompson.
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