Monday, 15 December 2014

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to a scarce 'old' potter called Richard Godfrey

Richard, who was respected for his work in Britain and Europe, a guest demonstrator at international events and seminars and Council member on the Craft Potters Association, has died at the age of 64.

What you possibly didn't know about Richard, that he :

* born in 1950 and recalled his desire to express himself through art "started at an early age, messing about in clay in our garden in Harrow on the Hill" in affluent North West London and after the family move to Plymouth, from 1961 - 66, attended Devonport High School for Boys' where, in his early teens, he was taught to paint by teacher/artist Wyn George (right), who was 'a great influence and through his teaching, learnt to look for colour and form and use drawing as a tool to develop ideas.'

* in 1966, at the age of 16, left Britain with his family to spend two years in Gibraltar and attended the catholic Grammar Grammar School for Boys run by the Christian Brothers and studied 'A' Level Mathematics and Physics and Art in the lab and room above the arches, with a view to becoming an architect and incidentally, surrounded by 'the deep and vibrant colours of the Mediterranean', which had an immediate effect on his painting and 'just couldn't put the brushes down and painted every spare moment.'

* having taken his exams in the summer of 1967, was at a loose end and by chance found himself 'at an evening class in ceramics, touched the clay and, like so many others, was instantly hooked' and instead of returning to Britain to study architecture in York, went to Plymouth and on a year's foundation course at the College of Art, before his
undergraduate course at the Bristol College of Art, learnt much from his ceramics and sculpture teachers who gave him 'the self-belief and determination so vital to someone who spends their life working alone tying to create things out of clay.'

* at the age of 19, began his studies at Bristol where he benefited from small classes, excellent equipment and tuition from Gillian Lowndes and Ian Auld, from whom he learnt the basic techniques : hand building, throwing, kiln building and firing and fell in love with the whole process of throwing on the wheel and later reflected : "It's a very magical thing. That's what made me want to be a potter. It was the late 60s and things were changing and people were looking at different ways of earning a living, more interesting ways than just a job in the office and the idea of being a potter really appealed to me."

* developed a love of glaze making and experimentation with glaze chemistry, working with one colour at a time and brighter and brighter versions of that colour and inspired by some 17th century Toft dishes he had seen in a museum in York, spent his last year, 1971-72, "exploring earthenware glazes, trying to recreate that wonderful juicy brightness, that depth, because, for me, that encapsulated the feeling that I had about making things out of clay."

* cut his teeth as a secondary school teacher in a year in a tough comprehensive school in Plymouth and at the age of 23 in 1973 started teaching art at the Battisborough International Boarding School in Devon and at the same time, his career as a part-time potter, sharing a studio on Plymouth Barbican working with John Pollex, where he continued to expand his ideas about glaze, and trying to get a "juicy, rich, bright earthenware glaze, we had a happy accident one day and found a way of making the glaze even brighter."

* having become Head of Art and Deputy Head Teacher at the College, in 1981, at the age of 31, resigned to take up working full time as a potter at his workshop in Yealampton, Devon and went back to slab building for the first time since his college days because he was limited in his "use of form, by forms which were thrown on a wheel and wanted to make things which were not round but were constructed" and in 1989, made his final move to his studio overlooking Mothecombe Bay, Devon.

* only three minutes walk from the coast, said : "I love this landscape, the North Devon landscape with this wonderful coastline and I want to make work which reflects that and earthenware somehow, for me, seems quintessentially 'English'. I'm not really interested in aesthetics that come from different cultures, but looking at things around me which condense and express the joy  that I get from the landscape. For me, brightly coloured earthenware seems to that."

* explained his pursuit of colour : "It might be a leaf, a flower a butterfly wing, a shell, bits of flotsam and jetsam on the beach. Because of my need to find colour, I find it in unusual things, but it's there. There's a huge amount of colour, even in winter. I went out yesterday. It's february. There's gorse out at the cliffs. The yellow is absolutely stunning and when you take one flower and look at it closely, that's extraordinary. When you look at things at that level and when you look at things intently, when you get down on you hands and knees in a way that a child looks, you see things in an entirely different way."

* said of the inspiration behind the design on a teapot, that : "This originally came from a black and white feather that I found and was intrigued by the way it contrasted with the bight colours on my pots and realised that if I put black and white on the colour, it intensified the value of the colour."

* explained the process of inspiration to creation : "I am walking across the beach, a beach of millions and millions of pebbles and I'll pick one up, so the secret is : can you go back to the studio and work out why you picked up that one ? If you can do that. If you can isolate what it was that touched my button, I can use that to touch some one else's button and it might be something very simple."

* in 2004 received a bronze award at the 'European Ceramic Competition' in Athens held the celebrate the opening of the Olympic Games and in 2011 the 'studiopottery Award' (right) and in the same year gave an Online Ceramics interview : and created a bowl for his video blog : and threw a mug in 2009 :

* on being voted by fellow exhibitors as having, at the Valentine Clays Peers Award in 2013, 'Best Contribution to the Festival' said : "You go through life when you are creating pieces with a hope that you are doing something of value and worthwhile because sometimes it feels you are not really doing anything of any value and just messing about with mud. Someone once commented to me that the most important thing is that you are making people smile. I try to generate something in my work that does exactly that. The nicest thing for me is when my contemporaries commented on how much they like my work, it's always a surprise. It generates a warm feeling, it makes the whole thing special in a way that is hard to define."

Richard smiling and generating a smile with his 'Rocket Dogfish Teapot.'