President’s Symposium, May 2023

The subject of our 2023 Symposium is

Devon’s Ceramic Heritage

Hosted by our 2022-23 President, Professor John Mather, it was held on Saturday 13 May 2023 at Petroc College, Tiverton.

A ceramics industry, based on local high-quality clay deposits, has existed in Devon since the Iron Age. During the 17th century a cottage industry produced hand-made pots for local use and for the new American colonies. Towards the end of the 19th century Devon became known for its art pottery, sold in elegant London stores. However, by 1920, easy access to mass-produced products saw the demise of most of these traditional potteries. Handmade pottery was left in the hands of studio potters – artist/craftsmen working individually or in small teams – some of the best of whom made Devon their home. Speakers at the symposium will explore this ceramic history, with a final look at what the future may hold.


We had to make a late change due to the indisposition of Lewis Bond. Fred Nichols kindly offered to step in with a lecture on puzzle jugs, as shown below.

9:30 – 10.00amREGISTRATION and COFFEE 
10:00 – 10:05amWelcome and introductionSue Andrew, DA Chair
10:05 – 10:45amThe fiery journey from Devon Clay to ceramic art or functional potJohn Mather, DA President
10:45 – 11:20amNorth Devon Sgraffito-ware: pottery shapes, their distinctive decoration and trade with the North American ColoniesSadie Green, Independent Ceramic Researcher
11:20 – 11:50amBREAK 
11:50 – 12:25pmThe Art Potters of BarnstapleAlison Mills, Manager, Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon
12:25 – 1pmPuzzle jugs: the story in DevonFred Nichols, Ceramics collector and researcher, Topsham
1 – 2.15pmLUNCH 
2:15 – 2:50pmDevon and the Studio Pottery MovementSally Ayres, Assistant Curator, RAMM Exeter
2:50 – 3:25pmTim Andrews – 45 years in clayTim Andrews, Honorary President, West Country Potter’s Association
3:25 – 4pmHistoric influences, current trends, future prospectsRupert Johnstone, RAMP Ceramics, Silverton
4pmTEA and DEPART 

These images courtesy of John Mather and Jenny Bennett. Click to see larger versions.
Main image by juantiagues, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.