The 22nd March 2016 would perhaps prove to be no ordinary day in the annals of Carlton Ware, for, by kind invitation of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Barry and Elaine Girling, along with Harvey Pettit made their way to Cambridge. They were to meet with research assistant Helen Ritchie and Honorary Keeper of Ceramics, Dr Julia Poole. The Fitzwilliam has one of the best ceramic collections in Britain.
The purpose of the visit was to take the opportunity to introduce and show examples of the best of the Best Ware, the zenith of Wiltshaw and Robinson’s production during the late 1920s and 1930s. Although the quality of manufacture was of the finest order, it was the inspiration of the designs of Violet Elmer (1907-1988) that elevated the ware from excellent to outstanding.
At the museum an informal discussion ensued from which their representatives chose three examples of Violet’s work and expressed a wish to display the items in the Glaisher gallery.
The pieces chosen were a charger in the Floral Comets pattern 3405 (c.1931), a 6″ vase in Scimitar 3651 (c.1933) and an 8″ vase in Bell 3788 (c.1934). All the pieces will be on loan for at least two years.
It is reassuring to know that such a prestigious museum recognises the contribtion made to the Arts by those who were involved at the Carlton Works in the production of such exceptional ceramics.
For anyone likely to visit at any time, it is worth noting that this year marks 200 years of Cambridge University Fitzwilliam Museum, commencing with a special exhibition, “Death on the Nile”, which is a look back into how the ancient Egyptians dealt with death and burial of their people.