‘Michael Cardew: The Last Sane Man’ Launch Photos
The British studio potter Michael Cardew (1901-1983) was a man of paradox, a modernist who disliked modernity, a colonial servant who despised Empire, a husband and father who was also homosexual, and an intellectual who worked with his hands. Graduating from Oxford in 1923, training with the legendary Bernard Leach, he went on to lead a life of pastoral poverty in Gloucestershire, making majestic slipware and participating in the polarised design and political debates of the 1930s. A wartime project in Ghana turned him into a fierce critic of British overseas policies; he remained in West Africa intermittently until 1965, founding a local tradition of stoneware inspired by the ambient material culture, independent of European imports, made by Africans for Africans. He ended his days a ceramic magus, his pottery at Wenford Bridge, Cornwall, an outpost of the counterculture and a haven for disaffected youth. In North America, the Antipodes and sub-Saharan Africa he offered the egalitarianism of craft as an antidote to racism and inequality. As the novelist Angela Carter observed in 1977, he came to seem ‘the Last Sane Man in a crazy world.’
The recent release of Tanya Harrod’s biography of Michael Cardew was marked with a launch party at the Fine Art Society. The pictures below offer a glimpse of Michael Cardew’s work, and happily also feature Michael’s son Seth, who was present at the launch. The evening was a true celebration Michael Cardew’s artistic achievement and demonstrated the enduring strength of his legacy. Many thanks to all those who attended.
Initial four photos by Natasha Farrar.
Final two photos by Robin Wood.