Leading 20th century design historian and writer Alan Powers gave a typically thought provoking talk on Enid Marx at the opening on our new show celebrating the creative friends and influences of Cardew’s Winchombe years. Marco, as she was nicknamed, was a close friend and supporter of Michael and had herself trained to be a potter before following a design career. Their relationship is traced in Alan’s new essay in our new book, Cardew’s Craft Circle – Art & Crafts of the Cotswolds (see previous post).
What proved particularly intriguing in his talk and essay was the crossover that emerges in between many of the leading figures in Cardew’s life, with the Royal College of Art (RCA) and the Central School of Art (CSA) emerging as important in craft and design terms in the 1920s as was Goldsmiths College for Graham Sutherland and Paul Drury. A figure in common of particular note was the Stoke born ceramic tutor Dorah Billington, who taught at both the RCA and CSA, and influenced Pleydell-Bouverie, Norah Braden, Charlotte Bawden (nee Epton) and a number of others. Ray Finch was to train under her in the mid-1930s before joining Cardew at Winchcombe in 1936.
As well as documenting Marco’s career, the presentation entailed some coverage of the influence of modernism as opposed to pastoralism in 1930s design aesthetics. Collaboration with industry and the democratisation of design also featured.