Rie pots sitting alongside works by Sutton Taylor, Emmanuel Cooper, Ursula Morley Price and Ewen Henderson, different genres from differing periods, collectively complementing each other. The displays provoke thought and of course conversations about the objects and may get the visitor looking at work from a new perspective. This is one of the joys of collecting – communicating about your passion and perhaps interesting others in it. INHERITED INTEREST Viscount Eccles grew up living amongst a growing collection of studio pottery as his father had been collecting since the early 1950s. The first Viscount Eccles was minister for the arts and his collection included notable works by Lucie Rie, Elizabeth Fritsch, Alison Britton and Jaqueline Poncelet. He wrote a book titled On Collecting, which was published in 1968. In this environment, surrounded by pots, his children developed an interest and later began their own collections.
The current Viscount’s collection contains fine works by many of the leading potters of the past 60 years. It was his good fortune to begin collecting during the 1960s onwards, during the heyday of studio pottery in Britain. There were many innovative developments to follow, new galleries and exhibitions constantly opening and in those early years modest prices were charged for top quality work. The CPA, formed in 1958, soon had a gallery where members could sell their work. Asked about where he purchased his pots, the Viscount replies: ‘Well, where else would you go but to the CPA gallery in Marshall Street? It was a very nice shop and they had a large selection.’ He consequently became involved with the Association after making regular visits and getting to know staff and exhibiting potters, proudly adding: ‘I’m an honorary fellow of the CPA amongst very few non-potters.’
He also used to visit the Casson Gallery in Marylebone High Street, while holidays to Cornwall inevitably took in trips to local potteries. ‘We visited Wenford Bridge when Michael Cardew was there,’ he explains. ‘We happened to visit on his 80th birthday and he danced a jig down the road. He gave my wife a dish. I’ve had tremendous fun and lots of pleasure out of pots,’ he adds. ‘I think the whole pottery movement is wonderful – it’s exciting that we have so many people making their own thing.’
The collection is rich in objects and memories, but his thoughts have now turned to the future prompted by an imminent house move. ‘One of the reasons for mounting this sale is we are moving out of our house in Yorkshire, which is a large property with lots of rooms and lots of pots,’ the Viscount explains. ‘The family are taking quite a lot – both the children and the grandchildren, but the sale is a gratifying way of reducing the collection.’
‘The Casson he has selected is a monumental jug, wood-fired salt glaze with swathes of slip in blues and browns. I’m sure Casson would have been proud to know that it was once more being offered for sale to benefit the trust he founded’
CERAMIC ADVOCATE Viscount Eccles is a trustee of the CPCT and a great advocate of the work it performs, believing it was very far-sighted of the people who started it. The founder of the trust was Michael Casson, who together with other CPA members established it in 1991. Since that time it has raised funds through tombolas, received personal bequests and distributed grants annually to numerous applicants to support educational activities associated with ceramic activity. Grants are made following scrutiny by a group of trustees and are for relatively modest sums, up to £1,000 – enough to make a difference to an individual’s
54 Ceramic Review | November/December 2019