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A New Year Message from Moorcroft Chairman, Hugh Edwards

Posted on - 13th January 2021
A New Year Message from Moorcroft Chairman, Hugh Edwards

Like so many of us, my wife, Maureen and myself have been well and truly confined to our home, but we are fortunate. Believe it or not, 2020 delivered, to our everlasting delight, so much of everything that all Moorcroft devotees would appreciate and enjoy. Our garden yielded an abundance of both wild and cultivated flowers and our beloved orchard of endangered species fruit trees gave us so many plums, apples and pears that our fridge and freezer are still full of fruit. We even have an exceedingly rare Moorcroft pear tree although it seemed to go on strike in 2020 with lots of blossom but no fruit. 

Designers have been on furlough now and then, but each time they returned to work, imagination, ideas and new pots flowed everywhere. Happiness for Elise, certainly, and good work for our tubeliners and painters on their own return to work a week or so later.

There were several occasions last year when I wondered whether our old art pottery would survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past hundred years and more, Moorcroft has had so much that is bad in life thrown at it and yet time and time again, it has survived, and to many people, that survival has seemed little short of miraculous. To the world, Moorcroft is a proven survivor and there are several reasons why.  Most of my colleagues offer their working lives to the old Art Pottery and employment stretching out over thirty or forty years is not uncommon.  In a second career, I have been with Moorcroft for well over thirty years and what we all have in common is a love of our work and that feeling of real privilege that we have in return for our commitment. However, without our collectors and those ceramic connoisseurs across the globe who spread our name through nations, Moorcroft would have long since vanished into the mists of time. We are all grateful for your continued presence through good times and bad, and look forward to the time when we can meet up together again at one or other of our away events.

Our work with the Royal Horticultural Society continues despite lockdown. Shortly before Christmas no one could have been more pleasantly surprised than I was when Elise asked me to write scripts for a selection of six ancient watercolours of domestic flowers drawn and painted by an unknown artist who lived in Italy more than three hundred years ago. It was thoughtful of the RHS to consider passing these historical treasures to Moorcroft on loan, and the recipient, Director of Art, Elise Adams, in turn, passed them to Design Studio member, Nicola Slaney.  From what I have seen, it was an inspired choice. The indefatigable Nicky threw all of her remarkable talents at the task and what emerged was a collection of six pieces which I personally rate as one of the finest collections Moorcroft has ever produced. Linking hands with an Italian artist who lived more than three centuries earlier, something remarkable happened. Elise went straight to a vase with anemones as its central theme while I found myself mesmerised by a tiny bunch of columbine to form what I can only describe as quite the loveliest Moorcroft coaster I have ever seen.


RHS Lindley Collections ©RHS

 Near to the end of my second career, I have decided that designers sometimes do not exist on the same planet as the rest of us. The moment furlough restrictions were lifted, new designs appeared in a positive flood. Furlough was, as Emma Bossons told me, a time for thought, for planning and for activating your imagination.  In Emma’s case, the result was no less than twelve miniature beauties, one for each month of 2021. We all hope that the new year will deliver something rather better than its predecessor and if January is anything to go by, that could well be the case.  Winter Hope is now already with us and is already fulfilling its promise. I like the name. Appropriate for the times we now live in.  Roll on the next eleven months of Emma’s miniatures.

These days, I count myself lucky. From the earliest days of lockdown, Elise has emailed to me an avalanche of images of newly-arrived designs.  Lucky old me!  I now have a far better understanding of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. There are some tasty treats heading in your direction. I have seen Goats in Llandudno, a black cat tormented by wonderful blue fish in a bowl, a vase with a landscape full of sprightly Oyster Catchers and a vintage scene from The Potteries featuring a long-gone shop above which two of Moorcroft’s famous tube-lining sisters grew up and past which a young Paul Hilditch walked to and from his school.

Even though our Heritage Visitor Centre is closed, I know that Elise has planned a modest release of new designs later this month.  More than ever before, we shall have to recognise that Moorcroft is all about the future and not the past and a curious fact is that pieces designed and made during the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to become special, in the same way that World War I and II pieces are seen to be special. Perhaps they are symbolic of victory over adversity. Who knows?

It would be nice to conclude by chattering about this year’s events, but as things are, that would simply be self-indulgence and misleading.  Like Emma’s January miniature, we should all hope. For that reason alone, Winter Hope will be the first new piece this year to enter our home.

A very happy New Year to you all and enjoy your 2021 pots. That is something we can all do together.

Yours ever

 Hugh Edwards