Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The DAS Collections Access Grant

The DAS Collections Access Grant

The Decorative Arts Society is an independent charity, founded in Brighton in 1975, financed by subscriptions and donations from its members and revenue from its events.

The DAS encourages and supports the study and appreciation of all aspects of the decorative arts and design from 1850 to the present. In its activities and publications, the DAS embraces the different media on an international basis - furniture, ceramics, glass, metalwork, textiles, jewellery and fashion, as well as architecture, interior and industrial design, and the graphic arts.

Aims and eligibility

The DAS has established a small Collections Access Grant which aims to support curators in extending access to, and knowledge of, the decorative arts in their collections.

The Grant:
  • provides funding for practical costs to help curators from publicly-funded museums that are open to the public to enhance access to their collections through display, publication  or digital media
  •  is available to fund individual curatorial activities or shared projects
  • gives priority to objects falling within the period 1850 to the present.

What we will support

Applications from individual UK curators may include requests for funding:

  • to  improve or update displays in the decorative arts in a publicly-funded museum
  • to fund a small decorative arts display in whole or in part
  •  to assist with publication, both printed and in online form, for example, by funding in whole or in part a short-term post to create database records or images.
We are willing to consider funding other kinds of activity, provided the applicant can make a substantive case for its contribution to public access to decorative arts objects.

Applicants can also request support towards additional activities to extend existing museum projects.

Size of grant

For the first year of grant-giving, the DAS has earmarked the sum of £2000 for the Grant. If completion of the project depends on receiving funding from other sources, this should be indicated, with a timescale.

How to Apply

Please set out a submission of no more than 1000 words specifically indicating:

  • how the grant will be spent (with a rough budget breakdown), and a realistic timeframe for when it will be needed
  • details of the project and how it will develop curatorial expertise and collections access in your museum
  • why you are applying for a grant and why the project cannot be funded from elsewhere

Please also attach a short CV of no more than a side of A4 and a letter of support from your Director or equivalent.

The deadline for applications for the 2014 Grant is 30 September 2014

Applications should be sent to the Chairman on who is happy to answer any queries on 020 7228 1472.

The successful applicant will be expected to acknowledge the support of the DAS by displaying its logo in the project, and to write a short report for the DAS Newsletter or Journal. If appropriate, the project might be used as the subject for a DAS museum study day.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Spode Training Day: Spode in the 20th Century

Ceramics Network Event - Report from Dinah Winch

On March 24th 2014 the third of our Ceramics Network training days was an exploration of Spode in the 20th century with Pam Woolliscroft, former curator of the Spode Museum and expert in Spode history. 

We started in the Stoke-on-Trent City Archives which live in the rather wonderful modernist Central Library next to the Potteries Museum. The Spode archive was deposited here in 2007/8 under Pam’s guidance prior to the closure of the factory, and so she knows the collection extremely well.

We focussed on the huge 20th century pattern books full of remarkable hand painted and annotated designs. These were a crucial reference point for the factory, ensuring that orders matched the original pattern exactly. Many 20th century patterns drew on historical designs, reusing shapes, with new patterns and vice versa, or cherry picking design elements and repurposing them for a new market or a new client.

Many of the pages were dog-eared and grubby with use and gave you a powerful sense of the energy of the industry. Just as at Wedgwood earlier in the year we had a sense of the richness of the firm’s heritage as a living asset, at least while Spode was still going, and a sense of loss that these working documents are now historic archives.

The pattern books aren't just a technical and design source but give insights into the broader cultural context of ceramics. Teasets, for example often didn't include a teapot or sugar bowl because customers would have a silver teapot and sugar bowl or sugar box.

Discussing & viewing Spode archive material in the morning session
We looked at some of Spode’s most famous and enduring designs including the two which together carried the firm through difficult times, Christmas Tree and Italian. The Italian pattern was introduced in about 1816 and was in continuous production until the factory closed in 2009. It's an unusual combination of an Imari-style border (copied from 18th century porcelain) and Classical centre and is still made by Portmeirion Group today. Christmas Tree was designed by Harold Holdway in 1938 and also remained in production, with variations of different shapes and colours over the years and again its enduring appeal is proven as it too is made by Portmeirion today.

The diversity of design in the 20th century was extraordinary as the factory responded to the different trends in Britain and abroad and experimented with new shapes, designs and technology. There were matt glazes in the 1930s (like Murray’s glazes at Wedgwood), new modern shapes, utility wares for the hospitality trade, slightly eccentric figures and ‘fancies’ and the amazing sculptural figures of the 1970s by Pauline Shone, flares and all.  It was also interesting to see the marketing materials that went along with the designs, and are also held in the archives.
Father and Child by Pauline Shone, part of the Parent and Child series,1974/5
Pam took us into the stores at the Potteries Museum next door where we looked and handled wares from the 19th and 20th century. One of the pleasures of seeing the actual objects is to see how the design translates into reality and sometimes see where things have gone wrong, as we looked at some pieces that had faults. It's not until you look at the real thing that you get a sense of the particular qualities (as opposed to the design) of wares from a particular factory – such as the weight or the different shades of white.
Looking at Spode pots mentioned in the morning archive session
Chris Latimer, City Archivist, told us of an exciting project nearing completion for the first phase of the Spode archive catalogue going online. This is a mammoth project led by Archivist Louise Ferreday working with Pam as well as Keele University student Wendy Osei-Annor. A major part of the Spode archive catalogue is now online, and is an an amazing resource for researchers to find out just what the Spode archive holds. We should all be grateful for all the hard work that has gone into this project at the Archives. Pam's Spode History blog is also an amazing resource for exploring Spode.

Thanks to Claire Blakey of the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery who organised us, Pam who lead us through such an interesting day and the staff at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and the Stoke-on-Trent City Archives for opening up their collections to us.
Potters Poppies prototype version c1920s
Montego on Flemish Green body, c1954

Olympus pattern on the two-tone earthenware body with Flemish Green border c1955
Camilla 1955 (first introduced as a design in c1833)

Pacifico c1963

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

SITE: Situating Ceramics Colloquium

SITE: Situating Ceramics Colloquium 9th May

Here are some details of this free event. You can access a more readable version of the flyer shown by clicking HERE and more about the organisation can be found by clicking HERE.