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Fish vase by Elwyn James - 1975

Elwyn James’ Fish Vase, ©  Wedgwood Museum
    Elwyn James’ Fish Vase
    © Wedgwood Museum

The Wedgwood factory has had a long tradition in utilising the services of studio potters. This exquisite hand crafted fish-vase ‘study’ was the work of talented potter and master craftsman Elwyn James who was talent-spotted whilst still a student at Wrexham Art College by Chairman and Managing Director of the Wedgwood company, Sir Arthur Bryan. The fish vase epitomises every potter’s skill from working in bone china, through to the eye-catching use of experimental glazes.

Elwyn James’ prodigious modelling talents were spotted early on by Wedgwood’s Sir Arthur Bryan while Elwyn was still a student at Wrexham Art College in the 1960s. Elwyn always had an eye for the unusual and this is epitomised in this exquisite study of a fish vase that he handcrafted as a studio pot ‘study’. Elwyn often chose to work in the difficult bone china body, and here virtually hand-carved the detail on the vase, enhancing the subject matter by the use of experimental glazes that he also constantly worked on during his career with Wedgwood.

  • Type of object: Ornamental ware/vase
  • Mark: WEDGWOOD MADE IN ENGLAND
    [Impressed]
    Elywn James 1975
    [Incised]
  • Year produced: 1975
  • Body: Bone china
  • Glaze: tortoiseshell
  • Material: ceramic
  • Decoration: glazed
  • Accession number: 9180
  • Dimensions: 330 mm (height), 175 mm (diameter)

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Related people

  • Sir Arthur Bryan Associated

    Sir Arthur Bryan - Associated (1922 - 2011)

    Born in 1923 Sir Arthur was Chairman of the Wedgwood Group of companies from 1967 to 1986, and Managing Director from 1963 to 1986.He was knighted in 1976 for services to export. He was the first non-Wedgwood family member to run the company after Josiah V’s retirement. For many years Sir Arthur was Chairman of the Wedgwood Museum Trust. He died in 2011.

  • Elwyn James Potter and Designer

    Elwyn James - Potter and Designer (1942 - 1979)

    Elwyn James was born and educated in North Wales and after gaining his National Diploma in design became a studio potter at Wedgwood in 1966. Elwyn was a talented potter with an eye for new and impressive shapes when throwing on the wheel. Sir Arthur Bryan, Chairman, and Peter Williams Deputy Chairman of Wedgwood, first met Elwyn at Harlech when he was a student and was already showing a considerable talent in ceramics. When he was employed by Sir Arthur he had already formulated his own distinctive style and in the following years was to become a great ambassador for Wedgwood. On one trip he travelled around Canada and America covering over 15,000 miles. Elwyn was to say of the trip “There was an encouraging response by all the cities I visited and an apparently greater interest in Wedgwood after the promotions”. Elwyn’s speciality was to produce individual specimens - all hand thrown, turned, and decorated in a variety of ways including unusual glaze finishes, sgraffito work, and pierced wares. Regrettably, Elwyn died suddenly in his sleep in November 1979 - aged only 37 - whilst still employed by Wedgwood. His wife Mary was Deputy Head of the local primary school in Barlaston at the time.

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