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16 June to 3 September 2002
Dunmore Pottery Exhibition

Dunmore Pottery - Toad

This exhibition will be opened by Barbara Davidson, of Barbara Davidson Pottery, Larbert, in the presence of the Countess of Dunmore at 2.30pm on Sunday 16 June.

The exhibition of Dunmore Pottery (1866-1902) has been selected from several hundred pieces, and comprises the cream of the private collections in Central Scotland and further afield, brought together for the first time. The exhibition is the Stirling Smith's major offering for the summer, and is a rare opportunity to see a wide variety of the ware produced by Scotland's late Victorian art pottery.

Pottery was produced on the Estate of the Earl of Dunmore near Airth, in Stirlingshire, from the 1790s. At that time, it was a typical estate pottery, producing bricks and tiles for building repairs, and domestic pots for local use. All of its wares were made from the carse clay, dug on the estate, a process which unearthed 8000 year-old whalebones, deposited on the Carse of Stirling by a tsunami or giant tidal wave. The early wares were not particularly distinctive.

Production changed dramatically during the time of Peter Gardner (1835-1902), a third generation potter who took charge of the works on the death of his father in 1866. Peter Gardner imported china clays from Cornwall, and for over 30 years was constantly experimenting with shapes, glazes, and finishes, making his work much sought-after and highly collectible.

The Dowager Countess of Dunmore, and the seventh Earl and Countess of Dunmore helped to promote the work of the pottery through securing royal patronage. The Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) came to the Pottery during his visits to Dunmore, and Queen Victoria purchased some of the ware at the Edinburgh International Exhibition of 1886.

Dunmore Pottery - Elephant

Peter Gardner used the Dunmore Estate as his inspiration for the many leaf and flower-shaped dishes and containers, as well as the puddocks, toads, owls and fish ornaments produced at the Pottery, much in the same way that the Massier family pottery at Vallauris drew its inspiration from the Cote d'Azure. Japanese and Chinese themes were also in evidence, and some of Gardner's Arts and Crafts shapes are close to the work of his contemporary, Christopher Dresser at the Linthorpe Pottery.

Dunmore Pottery was never a mass production works. Indeed, although many pieces in the exhibition are similar, there are scarcely two which are identical, on account of the different effects obtained through the glazes. Reds, yellows, cobalt (mined in the Ochils) and marzarine blues were among the bright colours employed.

Teapots were a speciality, and several family heirlooms, marked with the date and the owner's name, will feature in the exhibition.

During Peter Gardner's time, the Dunmore Pottery became something of a tourist attraction, with visitors disembarking at Larbert Station to visit the works. Tea, aerated waters and guided tours of the Pottery were available.

Dunmore Pottery is avidly collected today, fully a century after Peter Gardner's death, which this exhibition marks, together with the 30th anniversary of the Scottish Pottery Society, founded to further the study of Scotland's potteries in 1972.

The exhibition runs until 1 September. Admission and parking are free. For further information contact Elspeth King, tel. 01786 471 917, email Elspeth.King@smithartgallery.demon.co.uk, or Duncan Gray, Secretary, Scottish Pottery Society, tel. 01786 479142, emaildag06@students.stir.ac .uk.

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