This exhibition explores Kingston Museum’s unique Martinware ceramic collection, on show for the first time since its donation. It was collected by Kingston resident Ernest Marsh (1863-1945) and along with other items donated to the Museum upon his death in 1945.
With financial means at his disposal and a keen interest in the arts and crafts movement, Marsh indulged his eclectic taste and built an impressive collection of fine art, jewellery, silverware and sculpture. Marsh’s great obsession was contemporary ceramics, specifically those produced by the Martin Brothers, but his collection also evolved to include 20th century studio pottery by other ceramicists, some of which will be on show.
The new museum and art gallery opened in Kingston upon Thames in 1904 and in the absence of experienced curatorial staff, Marsh’s expertise as a connoisseur and collector was often called upon. He was asked to organise several temporary exhibitions in the art gallery and to shape the museum collections, and in this sense he can be seen as Kingston Museum’s first curator, helping to build reputation in the early years. This marked the beginning of a fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship between Marsh and the new museum, where a selection of his Martinware was on display from the first day.
This exhibition pays tribute to the remarkable yet unsung work of Ernest Marsh whose influence reached far beyond Kingston Museum, telling the story of the unique achievements of a man driven by an all-consuming passion for ceramics.
The exhibition is open 17 April – 4 July 2015 and has a programme of associated events and talks:
7 May – The Lure of Martinware: Mr. Marsh of Kingston. Lecture by Martinware and Marsh expert, Dr Christopher Jordan. 7-8pm. Free. Call the Museum to book.
14 May – Dreaming in clay, baptized by flame– the marvellous melancholy of the Martin brothers. Story telling event for adults by Olivia Armstrong A storyteller’s response to the lives and work of the Martin Brothers. Like a modern day fairytale this is a magical yet true account of their lives and creations weaving history and fable together, showing how art imitates life and vice versa..7-8pm.Free. Call the Museum to book.
23 May – Weird Wally Birds, Mr. Marsh’s Martinware. Ceramic workshop for children with Sarah Dhanjal. The Martin Brothers made weird and wonderful pots, make your own Martinware inspired bird in this clay workshop. Drop in, 11am-1pm and 2-4pm.
20 June – Leaping lizards, flying fish and dancing dragons! Beware of their snapping jaws! Count their eyes! Imagine their powers! Be charmed by these folktales and legends inspired by the creatures set in stone by the marvellous, magical Martin Brothers. Children’s storytelling event by Olivia Armstrong. Session 1: 1.15-2pm, Session 2: 2.15-3pm, Session 3: 3.15- 4pm. Ages 3+ to 10. Drop in, no need to book.
Kingston Museum, Wheatfield Way, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2PS. Phone: 020 8547 5006, www.kingston.gov.uk/museum, admission free
Open: Tuesday, Friday, Saturday 10am-5pm, Thursday 10am-7pm