FAR LEFT AND LE F T: A selection of Ashley Thorpe's collection in situ at his home
The Derek Williams Trust at the Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales had few stipulations. Renton looks af ter several notable collections that were once private and is sensitive to how they are incorporated into the larger museum context, allowing individual works to be shown on their own terms. ‘The collection of a f igure like W.A. Ismay shows that, if someone has the drive and the rationale, almost any ceramic item can be collectable. That rationale can be a specific context – a period, a place, a culture – or a particularly interesting artist or circle of artists, a fascination with technique or function or creative inf luences, but ultimately it will come down to what beguiles the collector.’ CURRENT TRENDS Whether collectors are inf luenced by trends is a personal choice, although acquiring notable studio potters appears to have staying power, typically because of the potential long-term investment.
Renton suggests that a clear current trend is the breaking down of hierarchies and categories and the recognition of ceramics as an artistic medium on a par with any other.
‘It is also ref lected in the strong rise in prices for work by studio potters, not just ceramic superstars like Lucie Rie, Hans Coper and Magdalene Odundo but also f igures like James Tower and John Ward. The practice of collecting ceramics seems to be global now, with an emphasis on work that is conceptually interesting and without too much concern about the need (if indeed there is one) to preserve traditional craft skills.’
Maak ’s Robinson and Founding Director Marijke Varrall-Jones believe trends affect the market to a certain extent, however quality and craftsmanship will always stand above. ‘Historically there was a desire amongst collectors to build collections that included examples by as many of the leading names in British studio pottery as their budgets would allow. Books like the V&A British Studio Pottery catalogue were almost treated like a shopping list. However, developments over the last 20 years or so have led to an ever more diverse aesthetic within studio pottery so this approach becomes increasingly less cohesive. Today people tend to be a bit more focused, either on a smaller range of artists or a particular period. The way people live with their