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Carlton Ware & The Age of Jazz
Posted on 28 January 2018

One of the reasons that Carlton Ware survived for 100 years was that the pottery kept abreast of public taste, none more so than in the inter-war period in what is often called the 'Age of Jazz'. Primarily, as a name for a form of music, 'Jazz' implies energy, vigour and spirit. These are certainly characteristics of the Carlton Ware designers and inspired many aspects of life throughout the 1920s and 30s, as the exhibition described below attests.

Publicity for Rhythm & Reaction - The Age of Jazz in Britain

Entrance to 2 Temple Place
Entrance to 2 Temple Place.
Situated on the Victoria Embankment, close to Temple tube station.
Entry is free - closed on Tuesday.

Carlton Ware takes pride of place in the ceramics section of
Rhythm & Reaction: the Age of Jazz , which opened in London on 27 January 2018 to celebrate the arrival of jazz in Britain, 100 years ago.

It is not difficult to guess that Enoch Boulton's
JAZZ was one of the Carlton Ware patterns chosen to be shown by Catherine Tackley, Curator & Professor & Head of Music at University of Liverpool.

The exhibition is held at 2 Temple Place, an elaborate, late Victorian mansion in Central London. This amazing venue is situated on the Victoria Embankment, overlooking the River Thames and is close to Temple Tube Station, so easy to get to.

The mansion, which is a must-see in itself, was completed in 1895 for William Waldorf Astor, who emigrated to the UK in 1891 and was then, arguably, the richest man in the world.

The exhibition, backed by the Arts Council, is produced in partnership with The Bulldog Trust and The Arts Society and marks the latter's 50th anniversary.

'This major showcase brings together painting, prints, cartoons, textiles and ceramics, moving film, instruments and the all-important jazz sound to explicitly examine the influence of jazz on British art, design and wider society.'

The picture below gives an idea of the interior of the building, which is now owned by The Bulldog Trust. The Trust has provided financial and advisory assistance to charities for more than thirty years.

Staircase skylight at 2 Temple Place
Part of the interior of 2 Temple Place, owned and run by The Bulldog Trust.

More about the exhibits
In their publicity, the exhibition organisers write:

'Advances in commercial reproduction gave the domestic market access to the jazz-influenced contemporary designs in textiles and ceramics. Just as radio and records were bringing jazz into the private realm, examples of Carlton Ware and Clarice Cliff ceramics and Arthur Sanderson textiles will demonstrate how the cultural response to jazz allowed Britons to encounter both the look and the sound of jazz at home.'

JAZZ 3353 representation
Representation of JAZZ,pattern number 3353.
Taken from Carlton Ware pattern records c.1930.
© Courtesy Cochrane & Pettit Archive.
During the planning stages, Rebecca Hone, exhibition coordinator, contacted me after finding an article that I had written about the JAZZ pattern on the Carlton Ware World website, asking for information. This led me to send her pictures of other "Jazz Age" Carlton Ware and from these a selection was chosen to be included in the exhibition.

Aside from examples of Carlton Ware, Rebecca asked if I had any drawings of patterns. Although I hadn't, during the 1980s, Peter Cochrane and I photographed the Carlton Ware pattern records, so I was able to provide a copy of the watercolour representation of the
JAZZ pattern for the exhibition and its publicity. As you can see on the right, and at the beginning of this article, the dynamism in the drawing is as strong as it is on the ware itself. Below, is a picture of the JAZZ examples selected on display at the private view with the equally dramatic Metropolis, which someone remarked predicts The Shard!

Carlton Ware JAZZ vasea & Metropolis jug-vase
Left: Carlton Ware JAZZ pattern vases.
Right: Carlton Ware Metropolis Handcraft 'jug-vase'.

Eric Knowles
Eric Knowles admires the JAZZ vases.

The Carlton Ware exhibits come from the collections of Terry & Heather Wise and Carole Moore. Because we were able to help, we were invited to the opening, which was packed with the great and the good. During the evening, we bumped into members of the Shelley Group, who had also contributed to the exhibits.

We were also pleased to see Eric Knowles,
Antiques Roadshow expert, who in the past has given talks to us on Art Deco at our meetings. In a subsequent email Eric remarked:

'How fitting that Carlton Ware dominates the ceramic contribution to this thought provoking exhibition as the only maker to actually use the word ‘Jazz’ to the dynamic design created by Enoch Boulton.'

Examples of Jazz Stitch, Lightning and Chevrons patterns from Carlton Ware's Handcraft range are also on display. These were designed by Violet Elmer and shown in the picture below, along with a Shelley Potteries vase in the Jazz Circles pattern.

More exhibits and Hannah Jordan with Harvey Pettit
Left: Jazz Stitch, Jazz Circles by Shelley, Lightning and Chevrons.
Right: Hannah Jordan, Programme Manager, with Harvey Pettit.

Also included in the exhibition is a small display of Honiton pottery with geometric decorations and a Grimwades coffee set with a striking and complex 'chintz' type sheet pattern. Coincidentally, Enoch Boulton, who designed Carlton Ware's JAZZ pattern, worked at Grimwades before he joined Carlton Ware, though the design on the coffee ware post dates his departure from Grimwades by some ten years.

Walking Tour: All that Jazz!

Bar shoes 1920-25
Co-operative Wholesale Society, Bar Shoes, 1920-25
© Courtesy Northampton Museum and Art Gallery

Jazz aficionados might like to join a walk that explores nearly 100 years of jazz history in the West End, from the arrival of the first Americans in 1919 and the development of Jazz in Britain during the interwar years, stopping at many of the sites of legendary London clubs, bars, hotels, and restaurants where jazz and ‘jazzy’ music was played!

The walk, on Saturday 14 April, starts and finishes at Two Temple Place and will take a maximum of 2 hours. For details click here. Walking shoes, not bar shoes, are recommended.

In one of many excellent reviews, London Jazz News says:

"This is a remarkable exhibition and anyone with even the slightest interest in jazz and the arts is guaranteed a most rewarding experience - and it's free!"

In the week that the exhibition opened,
Rhythm & Reaction was No.1 in Time Out's top ten things to do in London. ❑

© Harvey Pettit 2018.

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