QUENTIN BELL BUTTERFLY PLATE
Glazed Buff-coloured Earthenware
Decorated by Quentin Bell
Marked Quentin Bell & Fulham Pottery on base
Decorated with an image of a butterfly and a Bloomsbury-style border
Postage costs included in price
A rare, superb and unique hand thrown studio pottery plate moulded and decorated by Quentin Bell for the Fulham Pottery.
His pottery is quirky, spontaneous, often imperfectly shaped, but extremely likeable, humorous and imaginative. Quentin’s pottery upholds his expressed conviction that there is ‘a quite considerable place for vulgarity in life.
Quentin Bell was born in 1910, in Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London. He began painting with his mother, Vanessa Bell and with Duncan Grant. Realizing that painting was not his strength, in the 1930s he turned to pottery, beginning with decorative plates and eventually developing his talent for creating painted clay figurines, apparently inspired by a boyhood visit to a circus, where he witnessed a magician who made a woman levitate and then disappear.
A quote from Quentin made during an interview in 1979 and taken from Isabelle Anscombe’s Omega and After is worth reading. ‘I very much enjoy decorating pots and I quite enjoy, every now and then, going out and throwing some shapes. I’m bored by any series because I am not an exact person; I can’t make all the cups fit the saucers and that kind of thing. I do think that there are decorative qualities that only pottery can give and I always enjoy playing around with new techniques. Recently i have found plates a great stand-by. I like the quality of a thrown plate. For some reason most of my contemporaries don’t seem to like making plates, I don’t know why it is. In general I do find a mug a comforting and sensible sort of shape to work with and one which allows for an awful lot of playing around with the contour when you’re throwing it. But, I’ll tell you a thing – I wonder if this is usual amongst potters – when one has an idea of what kind of shape one’s going to make, the actual determination of the subtler qualities arises in the throwing. It is not a planned or designed thing. It happens as one lifts the clay... I have made drawings of shapes I want to make, but on the whole I’d much rather find the shape in the process of making it’.
And, ‘I tend to make things that I’m going to have fun decorating. That’s one of the reasons why I make plates such a lot. When i am throwing a plate I do think, “Oh, this’ll be a lark to decorate – it’ll be a nice field of operations, so to speak”.
According to Charles Saumarez Smith: "After retiring from his post at Sussex in 1975, Bell was able to spend more time and energy on his pottery. In 1985 he and his wife, Olivier, moved to a smaller house next door to the park in Firle and each morning he would wake up early and disappear to his kiln, only emerging for gin and ginger beer in the evening. He undertook a mixture of work, some rough, painted plates and mugs, which he saw as belonging to an artisan tradition, but also more ambitious ceramic sculpture. Neither style fitted comfortably within the work of contemporaries, as his pots were too utilitarian to be regarded as art and his ceramic sculpture too conventionally figurative. But this in no way deterred him from turning out a great amount of work which was both vigorous and affordable, a crossover between the Omega workshops and folk art."