Large rimmed tazza salt bowl
Acclaimed as the foremost living maker of domestic stoneware in the world, Richard is very sadly not now able to throw more pots. At Sladers Yard we have been honoured to sell Richard’s work regularly over the last eleven years. Our most recent exhibition was of pots he’d had put aside, throughout his long career, in a private collection he used for his own reference and as a record of his work. Some he chose because they marked a significant development that he wanted to replicate and others because they were ideal versions of a form. With the help of his son, the potter Reuben Batterham, Richard decided to release a good number of these pots, some from his final firings and some dating back as far as the 1960s.
Saturday 7 March 2020 (SOLD OUT)
Thank you to everyone who came to the opening or was able to visit since. The response to this show was phenomenal and at the end of the first week all 175 pots were sold.
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George Young, whose family are neighbours of Richard Batterham, has made a short film that gets to the heart of this lovable and deeply inspiring craftsman and artist.
Born 1936, Richard Batterham became interested in pottery at a very young age at Bryanston School, where an interest in craft and design was greatly encouraged. He learnt under the guidance of Donald Potter, who was a student of Eric Gill and had also worked with Michael Cardew at Winchcombe. After National Service, Batterham worked for two years under Bernard Leach at the Leach Pottery in St Ives, Cornwall. There he and his future wife, Dinah Dunn, met Atsuya Hamada, a son of Shoji Hamada. ‘I think we got a lot from him,’ Batterham says, ‘about how to handle clay. We were very lucky.’
In 1959 they left to set up their own pottery at Durweston outside Blandford. In 1967 Batterham moved into a new pottery workshop in Durweston and built a four-chambered oil and wood-fired kiln. In 1978 with the help of the French potter Thiébaut Chagué, he also built a small salt glaze kiln.
Still in the same pottery, he has always worked alone doing all the processes himself from digging the clay to labelling the pots. His pots are often referred to as being in in the Leach tradition, although he feels more in tune with the attitudes of Michael Cardew. His pots are made to enrich life rather than to adorn it. A superb craftsman, his colours are soft celadon blues and greens through to caramel (Manganese), browns and blacks with the nature of his glazes varying from thin and bright to thicker softer glazes. His forms are functional – simple, satisfying and beautiful. Some pots, he says, ‘call out to me that they are really good ones’ and these are the pots we have always been delighted to show.
A walk around the exhibition just before it opened.
Describing his own pots, Richard Batterham refers to some of them as ’soft’ or ‘kind’, emphasising their human quality. ‘Michael Cardew used to say form was everything, and form is very important, but I tend to feel that it’s how the clay is handled that really makes a difference. I like to make something you can hold. If someone really hugs onto a pot, that’s lovely and just how it should be.’ Brushing away his own pre-eminence, he says, ‘You just get into the right frame of mind and get on with it.’
Richard Batterham’s work is in numerous museums, including the Tate and the V&A, as well as in private collections all over the world. Sladers Yard is proud to have held major annual selling exhibitions of his work since 2009.
Richard Batterham Pots from the artist’s own private collection
Last four firings: RB939 – 1001
The last 60 years: RB1002 – 1110