This is an extraordinary collection of design and applied arts amassed by Ken Stradling over more than 60 years as a retailer and patron. From 1948 to the present, Ken has been involved in the selection of products for the well known design store the Bristol Guild of Applied Arts. His knowledge, his friendship with so many designers and makers and taste has been a central to the success of the Guild. Throughout all that time, Ken has acquired pieces for himself. Firstly to furnish a home and latterly more consciously as a collector and patron. The resulting collection is unique in the way that it reflects the broad nature of Ken’s experience and knowledge of the field. Studio pottery sits alongside fine pieces from major manufacturers such as Rosenthal or Arabia. Steel sits alongside glass and oak alongside plywood. It accurately reflects the changing face of design and the applied arts as seen by one dedicated individual with a keen eye.
I have been always interested in the juxtaposition between functionality and beauty and the perceptions of what can be perceived as functional. Spotting some Oliver Kent’s teapots scattered around the building has caught my eye:
Another piece that has caught my eye and perhaps I will be choosing as my catalyst for my project Connections and Object(ions) is the one by Gordon Baldwin pictured below as of which I have previously looked at last year surrounding the themes of interpretations and perceptions. Gordon Baldwin has re-established the vessel as an abstract form, moving away from the Bernard Leach’s Anglo-Oriental style, towards a more modernist aesthetic. In his work, she challenges the notion of functional ceramics and the wheel-thrown methods used by production potters and explores relationships between drawing and making the relationship between inner and outer space, the economy of the form reminiscent of Cycladic art, the depths of the glazed clay achieved by often using various pigments, the economy of the lines on the surface of the forms which tend to follow the vessel’s dips and swells, a preference for organic rather than geometric forms that are rounded rather than angular, all key aspects mimicked from paper to clay.