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Michael Cardew’s life and work
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Michael Cardew
Michael  Cardew
Detailed Information on Michael Cardew

Biography of Michael Cardew

Michael Cardew learned to throw pottery from W. Fishley Holland of Braunton Pottery in Devon while on a summer vacation. He attended school at Exeter College, Oxford, from 1916 to 1920 and worked with Bernard Leach at the St. Ives Pottery in Cornwall from 1920 to 1923. Cardew established Winchcombe Pottery in 1924 and made earthenware pots there until 1938. The next year he established Wenford Bridge Pottery in Cornwall. The same year he was appointed to teach pottery at Achimota College on the Gold Coast of Africa (now Ghana) and to set up a production pottery to supply wartime pottery needs in Africa. When the war ended, Cardew remained and founded Vume Pottery. In 1947 he was appointed senior pottery officer in Nigeria. He remained there until 1970, when his health forced his return to Wenford Bridge, where he made pots, taught and conducted workshops. Cardew made two important contributions to vessel ceramics. A functional potter who worked within the English slipware tradition, he was able to take traditional forms and combine them with contemporary decorative images to the enrichment of both. His second contribution was to bring stoneware pottery to West Africa but as another option and not a replacement for indigenous low-fire pottery. In 1976, there was a retrospective exhibition organized by the British Craft Council that traveled to Europe. See Garth Clark, Michael Cardew (London, 1976) and Michael Cardew, A Pioneer Potter: An Autobiography (Great Britain: Collins, 1988). Cardew was also the author of Pioneer Pottery, one of the greatest pottery manuals ever written. He died in Truro, Cornwall in 1983.

Michael Cardew's article, "On Pottery and Potting" is included in the anthology Every Man an Artist , edited by Brian Keeble .

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