Ben Jones, Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts, shares his experience of working with this unique family collection of studio ceramics.
We were privileged last year to receive a large donation of wonderful material from the Ratoff family. The Ratoffs, Len and Pamela, were both active members of the Liverpool medical community, Len being a Doctor and Pamela, the Senior Social worker and head of department at the Royal Liverpool Hospital. Throughout their working lives they indulged a love of ceramics, buying from a great number of North Welsh artists in easy reach of their then home in Llangwm, Gwynedd.
Studio ceramics is a loose category that is unified by the people who make it, rather than any technique; they are made in small or single person workshops and are often both decorative and functional. They are often affordable too, meaning it is truly an art form everybody can have in their home.
It was my first job as part of the Decorative Arts department to document the collection, making it ready to be displayed partly in the Walker Art Gallery and fully online. As my first physical and digital display it was a big task, and I was grateful that the materials themselves were so beautiful. The Ratoff’s purchasing pattern was driven entirely by their sense of taste rather than any view to investment, which really imparts the entire collection with a unique and personal feeling.
If you can, come along to the Walker Art Gallery and see the pieces on display there at the entrance to the Craft and Design Gallery, on the ground floor, as well as upstairs in Room 13.
See the complete Ratoff studio ceramics collection online now.
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