Conference Papers & Reports
  Michael Cardew Remembered continued
Peter Stichbury


In the film 'Mud and Water Man', it shows him being very philosophical about the changes, but in his heart, his original and very beautiful pottery centre was always the dearest to him.

6. The same day that we arrived we saw our first kiln opening. Very exciting. One of many that we were to see. In the middle of this kiln opening, a big snake appeared and everybody went berserk, all showing off and throwing rocks and carrying on, really just showing off, until it was finally killed. Ladi came up and patted Diane's arm as if to say, 'There, there, we'll look after you'.

7. The same kiln opening. Cardew very happy with the results.

8. The back of the kiln shed with the woodpile ready to be chopped up for firing. Michael used to send some of the boys up into the hills about three miles away to dig clay and then he would get...

9. ... Gwari women (local tribe) to carry the clay back in calabashes, paying them either ten pence or a shilling, depending on the size of the calabash. Here he is, dispensing the money.

10. The clay mixing process went very smoothly. The clay was ball milled in its right proportions and then the slip was poured into the big, locally made pots at the back of the pottery, left to stiffen, dug out and treaded, then kneaded and stored to increase plasticity. Michael sourced Kaolin from tin mines on the Jos Plateau to the north of Abuja.

11. Here is Cardew with Seth and Diane at this big deposit of kaolin.

12. It was brought down to Abuja by truck, where it was washed and sieved and settled and dried.

13. Here's Ladi, that brilliant person, that magical woman who Cardew bought into the limelight, making one of her glorious pots. What a wonderful idea. She made this pot outside especially for me to photograph the process and was quite sulky afterwards for some reason, until I found out that I hadn't given her a 'dash' but then she was quite happy when I remedied that!

14. Ladi Starting the pot.

15. Base completed, adding coils.

16. Welding in a coil, moving around the pot as in a wassa or dance, singing.

17. Smoothing the rim with a strip of wet leather.

18. The finished pot, partly decorated.

19. Her simple tools - pieces of calabash, bamboo decorating tools, leather and roulettes for decoration.

20. One of two Ladi pots, which Michael generously let us buy.

21. The second one was decorated with fish. At the pottery for three months was a youngish woman from Argungu, near Sokoto. Here a fishing festival was held each year. Ladi was inspired by the story of the festival.

22. Ibrahim making a planter for roses for a friend of Michael. Stretching a disc of clay over and upturned pot dusted with ash.

23. Adding a foot ring.

24. Adding a rim to the leather hard pot.

25. Dan Juma stacking oval dishes in the kiln - a dry season activity.

26. Loading the big kiln.

27. The 'Bourry' firebox.

28. My pots from the first kiln in which mine were glost fired.

29. When this raw glazed teapot of mine came out of this kiln, Michael grabbed it, turning it around in his hands and saying, 'This is a pot! This is a pot!' Later he asked Diane if he could buy it. This was out of the question and we were delighted to give it to him. He wrote about it from Abuja two or three times, saying it had produced many progeny!



Michael O’Brien interviewed by Jeffrey Jones

New material added January 2004

The Michael Cardew Centenary Symposium
University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK

27 - 28 June 2001

Cardew in America
Garth Clark

Michael Cardew - His Influences in Australia
Penelope J.Collett

Leach and Cardew - The Early Years
Emmanuel Cooper

Recollections of Abuja 1961 - 1962
Peter Dick

Michael Cardew in Nigeria:
Can we Complete his Autobiography from his Diaries?

Liz Moloney

Some Reflections on Michael Cardew (1901-1983)
from the National Electronic and Video Archive of the Crafts (NEVAC)
Matthew Partington

Michael Cardew Remembered
Peter Stichbury

The Michael Cardew Centenary Symposium
University of Wales Aberystwyth

27 - 28 June 2001

Report by Jo Dahn





Michael Cardew Remembered • Issue 3