“Troika 63-83 was inspired by the sudden realisation three years ago that it would be fifty years since Troika first opened its doors in 1963. This deserved commemorating. Ben Harris was already a collector and had known Lawrence Illsley since they were teenagers in Penzance. Lawrence is the son of Leslie illsley one of the founding partners of Troika. Together they decided to find out as much information as possible and piece together a definitive history of Troika. The only was to do this was to interview the people who were involved and to tell their story.Their journey took them from the east to the west coast of England and into the homes of nearly twenty casters, fettlers and decorators. It was always a deeply personal journey for Lawrence who never got to know his father but the interviews yielded much more than that. they told of an inspiring and dedicated group who stayed true to their vision and produced highly original and distinctive ceramics. The book is the inside story of how they did this for twenty years and includes never before seen photos and reveals unknown details about the studio.”From Left to right: Kristen Roth, Benny Sirota, Stella Benjamin, Lesley Illsley
Troika began as a commercial pottery in March 1963. It was set up by potter Benny Sirota, sculptor Leslie Illsley and architect Jan Thompson. Over time Troika’s work changed from functional craft objects to conceptual stand-alone pieces of sculpture, extending the ideas and practise of sculpture into the medium of clay. The use of clay at Troika meant they, as artists, had access to a medium of creation. Through mass production they were able to allow more people access to the ownership of art objects. A process now known as ‘the democratisation of art.’
Troika 63-83 sets out to capture a unique period in the artistic and cultural history of St Ives and Penwith, Cornwall. A time of great hope, freedom and endeavour for the multitude of now highly regarded artists who were working on the peninsula at that time. The book tells the personal journey of three young opinionated men who set out to challenge the establishment and who succeeded on their own terms. It also highlights and discusses new interpretations of Troika’s work, which the authors argue should been seen primarily as sculpture rather than functional objects.
Short Review Comments: For anyone with an interest in ceramics from the 1960′s and 70′s and in the St. Ives ethos in that period – or indeed wanting to understand just how far Health and Safety have come in the last few decades, should read this book. Clearly it is a remarkable and “Must have” book for anyone interested in Troika, but although I have no particular interest in this work, I still found the book very readable and enjoyable – a compelling read. Well done to Ben and Lawrence for capturing this remarkable story and slice of history before those with firsat hand knowledge were no longer able to contribute. Stephen Dee, Editor
To purchase a copy of the book:
Enhanced with 20 pages of colour illustrations, Troika 63-83, 21cm x 21cm paperback (177 pages) is on general release from 21/01/13. RRP £25.00. For further information or to purchase a copy of the book please contact the publishers firstname.lastname@example.org (Mentioning studiopottery.co.uk may result in a small discount!)
For more information look at the News Page on www.studiopottery.co.uk or Troika’s website is http://www.troikapedia.co.uk/