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Post by NaomiM December 5th 2020, 6:44 pm

Obituary:


Robert Johnson Washington, potter and educator: born London 2 May 1913; married 1939 Marjorie Terry (died 1996; one son), 1996 Su Lapesco (one daughter); died Little Baddow, Essex 17 November 1997.

Robert Washington was as inventive and creative in his teaching as he was in his ceramics.

Born in south-east London, Bob Washington showed early promise as an artist, entering Goldsmiths' College in 1930 to study painting before moving on to the RCA. After three years in the painting school he went to the pottery department. The department was headed by William Staite Murray, one of the leading potters in Britain, an influential and charismatic if sporadic teacher. Murray had firm views about the status of pots, distancing himself from their craft associations and arguing that pots should be seen as fine art, an attitude which seemed entirely right to Washington, one of the liveliest students.

Teaching at Derby College of Art was interrupted by war service m. After the war, Washington resumed teaching ceramics at Derby, making an impression on the students as a conscientious and dedicated lecturer, going on to become principal first of Dewsbury and then Margate schools of art. He maintained his own studio too, producing pots under the clear influence of Murray, but with his own idiosyncratic interpretation of the figure; and exhibited in the Festival of Britain.

After a nomadic life moving his family round the country, he was appointed Art Inspector for Essex. Retirement in 1979 brought fresh opportunities and a renaissance in his work with clay. He was ever alert to new developments within ceramics. At this time he was best known for his impressive tall, thrown bottle forms with a strong anthropomorphic element, an impression heightened by his use of spiky painted decoration depicting female figures which seemed to be engaging with the pot, giving the work the added edge of surrealism. He had. solo exhibition at Anatol Orient gallery in London in 1988 he made a comeback with a series of new work consisting of large platters which were inventive in both their imagery and surface treatment. Work was also shown at Paul Rice, London. A new relationship with a young ceramic student, Su Lapesco, stimulated his experimental approach to clay, leading him to investigate cratered and textured glazes and to integrate such effects into his ceramics.

One of Washington's major contributions to ceramics was to continue the fight for its recognition as fine art


Last edited by NaomiM on December 6th 2020, 4:00 pm; edited 3 times in total

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Post by NaomiM December 5th 2020, 6:47 pm

R J Washington  6dbd6610
R J Washington  49295a10
R J Washington  4ed80310

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Post by philpot December 6th 2020, 7:32 am

That is an interesting one Naomi. Quite different to his usual pieces seen around at auction and Museums. Big tall vases with figurative work in the William Staite Murray tradition are what you see. His reputation has somewhat diminished now, but his pots fetched substantial prices at auction not so long ago.
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Post by denbydump December 6th 2020, 9:08 am

He had some connection with Denby pottery, maybe when he was teaching in Derby.
I really don't remember where I heard that, and no mention in the Denby book.
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Post by NaomiM December 6th 2020, 9:40 am

It’s the first mark in his entry in the Marks book so an early piece I expect. Shouldn’t really discuss value but it’s ¬£75 in a local antiques shop and I was going to email the dealer with the ID. Seems about the right price to me for something that’s not his signature style.


Last edited by NaomiM on December 10th 2020, 9:37 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by philpot December 6th 2020, 1:49 pm

Probably worth all of that or more just as it is. That slip work is very nice. Nice buy. Time is just about right for a re-evaluation of his work, given that studio pottery prices have increased lately. He was a Very Good Artist Potter.
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Post by NaomiM December 6th 2020, 3:59 pm

Deserves to be in a Museum really. Lovely large vase. Possibly a lead glaze; always gives a nice sheen.

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Post by philpot December 6th 2020, 7:12 pm

Interesting, there is a Washington Foundation which celebrates the work of William Washington and his son R.J. Washington. They started giving an annual student bursary in 2015.
Link to the Washington site which gives some information and pictures of his work.
http://www.thewashingtonfoundationuk.com/rj-washington/4587392716
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Post by philpot December 6th 2020, 7:53 pm

There is also a 32 film called OUT OF THE TUB which in on Youtube. It shows a lot of his late work which is quite, quite extraodinary and also has interviews with him Anatol Orient, David Whiting and Martin Smith. It is really worth watching
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aMZqV6wMBcs
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Post by studio-pots December 8th 2020, 8:45 pm

The Foundation, film etc. are all the work of his widow, Su. She was considerably younger than him. She has tried to keep his reputation alive. She lives in part of the property they shared in Essex.

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Post by studio-pots December 8th 2020, 8:46 pm

NaomiM wrote:It’s the first mark in his entry in the Marks book so an early piece I expect. Shouldn’t really discuss value but it’s ¬£75 in a local antiques shop and I was going to email the dealer with the ID. Seems about the right price to me for something that’s not his signature style.

I think far better that you buy it............. but ask for trade.

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Post by NaomiM December 10th 2020, 10:15 pm

Got it Excellent

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Post by studio-pots December 11th 2020, 3:50 pm

Well done. What is the height?

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Post by studio-pots December 11th 2020, 4:50 pm

A later stoneware by R. J. Washington.

R J Washington  Rjw_7b11

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Post by studio-pots January 28th 2021, 11:47 am

R J Washington  Rjw_r10

A tall stoneware pot with fairly typical decoration.

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Post by NaomiM January 28th 2021, 12:21 pm

studio-pots wrote:Well done. What is the height?

It’s pretty big. I’ve left it at my mums; I’ll add the measurement next time I visit,

R J Washington  5c255f10

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Post by studio-pots January 28th 2021, 3:12 pm

In the last few years before "Bob" died he made some completely different work.

I was given a few pieces by Su, his widow, to sell on a SOR basis and below is one that I did move on.

These pieces were not signed but the number on the base is the number of the piece in the Catalogue Raisonné compiled by Su.

R J Washington  Rjw_ex10

R J Washington  Rjw_ex11

R J Washington  Rjw_ex12

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