Exhibition Makers Guild WALES UNTIL 31ST mARCH 2019.
Celebrating their 50th Anniversary as Potters, this is the perfect time to welcome a join exhibition by David and Margaret to Makers Guild Wales. They first trained in the oriental tradition at Stoke-on-Trent College of Art under ex-Leach apprentice Derek Emms before establishing their first pottery together in the mid-1960s. Their work follows the inspiration of reduction fired stoneware and porcelain came from the Orient and reached its height in the Sung to Ming Dynasties in China. This was popularised, and passed on in Britain and Europe by Bernard Leach. The father of the British Studio movement united the aesthetics of East and West and along with his student, Michael Cardew, his son David and others, started a tradition of high fired ceramics in this country. The Frith’s follow this way of working, while of course making it their own, and creating their own distinctive style.
A career as long as David and Margaret's will be varied. In 1963 David describes them adds ‘totally naïve in business acumen’ but they were already committed to making a living from their craft. In the pottery today is a picture of them working in their first pottery workshop in the mid-1960s. Emmanuel Cooper, writing on them in 2003, described it as ‘evocative of industry and application, of two potters applying themselves to their chosen profession’.
This first workshop was a dream of the Frith early on- they had always intended to set up a working pottery making pots that drew on local traditions. In the picture described above, Margert is throwing an old-fashioned industrial Willet’s Wheel . Based at Brookhouse Pottery in Denbigh they have been making work since 1963. In 1976 they moved to The Malt House, where they continue to work today. Their workshop is a mix of working pottery for their own work, and a venue for residencies and workshops.
Described by Philip Hughes, in his introduction to this exhibition as ‘a true phenomenon’ it is true there are few like the Frith To sustain their creative work for such a length of time, especially in our current climate is a phenomenal achievement. Their style and interests have naturally evolved over the years, but they still retain a great deal of their inspiration and artistic interest from the start of their careers. Passionately committed to earthenware pottery for use or display in the home. They now have moved from the original earthenware to high-fired wares, stoneware and porcelain. But as Emmanuel Cooper notes in his introduction to their current exhibition, ‘Some Forty years later the ideas that first inspired them remain as fresh and relevant as ever’
David and Margaret have exhibited around the world, as well as travelling worldwide to seek inspiration for their work. This has included trips across Europe and New Zealand, visiting Africa, India and of course China and Japan, the styles and history of which were intrinsic in their style. The Frith visited both countries in 2000, well into their careers and after their training with Leach, after many years of influence from these cultures and pottery styles. During this visit in 2000 they were able to visit Mashiko Pottery in Japan and invited by Furuki san to undergo a residency in 2001. While on this return visit the Frith took work for two exhibitions, showing their work in Shun Gallery Tokyo and Tokyo Gallery Mashkiko.
Philip Hughes, director of Ruthin Craft centre, comments that ‘David reaches for the moon while Margaret brings him back down to earth’ in a neat summary of their partnership that has endured and flourished creatively for 50 years. As some of our longest standing members Craft in the Bay is thrilled to be hosting the first solo exhibition by the Friths here.
Additional information and quotations from the exhibition catalogue. With thanks to Ruthin Craft Centre.
The Exhibition runs until 31st March at Makers Guild Wales.
Free Admission, 10. 30- 17.30 Daily .
Emily is digital content creator for Makers Guild Wales. She manages our social media and website as well as writing and curating the blog. She is a also an academic and arts journalist.