One lesser-known aspect of the Lamorna story that will feature in the Lamorna Colony Pioneers exhibition will be a display of Lamorna Pottery.There have been various incarnations of this.
The first Lamorna Pottery was set up in the early 1920s by Kate Westrup and Ella Naper, operating from a typical Lamorna corrugated iron studio close to Lamorna Vean. Kate, who demonstrated in both her life and art a love of animals, produced a series of small animal figurines, of which Penlee hold a typical example, Cow and Calf. Ella Naper produced some tableware, of which through the generosity of the late Maryella Pigott, Penlee has some examples, but perhaps is best known for her figurines of herself and her great friend, Laura Knight. Sadly, this first incarnation of the Pottery came to an end on the premature death of Kate Westrup in 1928.
The second incarnation of the Lamorna Pottery was established in 1947 by Christopher James Ludlow and Derrick Wilshaw in what had been the Trewoofe Creamery for the Catchall Dairy.This Pottery is still operating from its original site, last year celebrating its 75th Anniversary. It was run by Chris Ludlow until his death in 1969, by Peter and Shirley Brown from 1971 to 1988, by Ossie Rego from 1988 to 2018 and by Jeremy Chapman and Munir since then.
Whilst the Browns ran a hugely successful pottery using slip casting with a range of principally blue and brown glazes, sometimes with some nice abstract effects, the heyday of the Pottery from an artistic viewpoint are the Ludlow years, for he was recognised at the time as a pottery decorator of exceptional talent. Indeed, in his day, his decorative skills were felt to be superior to Bernard Leach and his Lamorna pots were so prized that he was unable to keep up with demand, leading to mental health issues for he was not a businessman.
There will be a number of examples of his exquisite pots, drawn from both the collections of Penlee and art historian, David Tovey, in the show.There will also be some examples from Penlee’s collection of the work of George and Margaret Smith, who helped at the Lamorna Pottery in 1964-5 before setting up the Tregurnow Pottery, which they ran successfully until 1999.