‘Mr Owl’ – A school pottery project
An old friend of ours has a handsome period property in South London which he has recently spent a great deal of time and effort refurbishing and we went to admire it over supper earlier this month.
During a quick scan of the room to take in all the changes, my eyes were suddenly drawn to a small clay ornament, with large staring eyes, observing me from a dark corner of the bookcase. “Where did you get that?” I enquired, “It’s amazing” – taking it down and inspecting it carefully. “It was left to me by an elderly friend. It was made by her son years ago when he was at school” he said laughing – evidently very amused that I liked it so much.
Naïve and folky in nature, this little clay owl reminded me of a similar slipware figure from the 1700’s I had seen illustrated in a book. It exhibited the same slightly awkward form and primitive surface decoration, along with great character, honesty and an immense sense of joy in the making. Uninhibited and simple – but far from crude – it was actually beautifully observed.
I took several photographs of Mr Owl, which I have shared on Instagram, but really wanted to tuck him under my coat and make off with him while our host was distracted in the kitchen! I fear Mr Owl would have been missed in an instant however, as his new owner obviously appreciates him as much as I do. He certainly has a lovely new home to admire from his spot high up on the bookcase.