23 January 2012

Treasures at the Scotish Museum,

The Scottish Potters Association arranged a visit to the  National Museums Collection Centre ceramics department of the Museum of Scotland. Stored at two sites in Edinburgh, I was in the group visiting the English, continental and contemporary department in Granton. We were lead upstairs and downstairs, along corridors and through great hangar like rooms full of vast machinery awaiting conservation. Finally reaching one of the rooms which houses the ware. Cupboards lining the walls and in a central block of back to back cupboards which were unlocked as requested and left open for us to handle pieces the like of which I have only ever seen before in books and behind glass.   I felt just like the little pot below.
English Medieval lead glazed cup, 4 inches high - I'm in love.
Some of this medieval work is so fine and lightweight. It looks crude and coarsely potted but it's not. It is beautiful in the hand and absolutely fit for purpose. I'm astonished by it.
Watering can, about 18 inches high
Detail of the handle

English 13th -14th century, buff earthenware, lead glaze
 This, above, was the most finely thrown of the pieces which grabbed my attention, with a slightly swollen base.
ditto, with impressed panels of deer, 20 inches high
We tried to work out how this one was constructed. The upper half has fine throwing rings visible, the lower half is distorted, possibly from the impression of the carved panels. There was a difference in texture inside the pot.
It was such a treat to handle these pots. The collections are public and the curators were very insistent that we come back again, that's what they are there for.

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