Robert Louis Blatherwick: Reepham’s Potter
Robert and Marjorie Blatherwick converted The Old Bakery, Station Road next to the Post Office, where they lived with their family. There they had a pottery with Robert producing earthenware ceramics and Marjorie running the business.
Robert was born in Lincoln in 1920. He left school at the age of fourteen to study a broad range of subjects at Lincoln School of Art. These included lettering, drawing, sculpture, wood carving and model making, and he specialised in pottery. He was awarded the Gibney Art Scholarship at Lincoln which enabled him to follow apprenticeship training at Wedgewood Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent, and while there he attended Burslem School of Art for extra tuition. In 1941 he went to Winchcombe Pottery in Gloucestershire where he was employed by Michael Cardew, making slip-decorated earthenware. However the pottery closed temporarily in 1942 as a result of the war. Robert was recommended by Cardew to work with Bernard Leach in St Ives for a year. Robert’s time with these two studio potters contributed to his sense of form, his love of the Japanese aesthetic, his aim for perfection and constant criticism of his own work, and his ability to communicate these approaches to those he later taught. His uncompromising, consistent judgement was much respected by his students.
In 1943 Robert returned to Lincoln School of Art as a lecturer and taught there until 1967 when he resigned in frustration with the direction education was taking, and set up his own pottery workshop and gallery in their home in Reepham. He produced a wide range of high-fired earthenware including buttons, jewellery, sculpture, sculptural and decorated tiles and domestic items. These pots were for everyday use and included items such as tea-pots, coffee-pots, cups and saucers, jugs, casseroles, mugs, serving dishes, and salt pigs. He constantly experimented with designs, bodies and glazes exploring the possibilities with slipware and earthenware glazes. His aim was to produce pottery that was functional with aesthetic appeal using colours that were natural to clay and reflected nature. Robert exhibited his work in the early years of The Craftsmen Potters Association in London, where the dominant ideology in British studio pottery favoured stoneware.
Robert and Marjorie ran their business until 1990 and sold work across the UK and abroad. Robert continued working, sculpting and drawing until his death in 1993.
1 Archaeology of the House. Site Object, Context. A study of the life and work of Robert Louis Blatherwick by Susanna Blatherwick, M.Phil. Thesis at Manchester Metropolitan University.
2 Cornwall Artists Index
3 Robert Blatherwick Showcase at The Collection, Lincoln. 2012
4 Ceramike - British Studio Pottery - Past Potters