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david ballantyne (was re. potter relative-in-law)

updated wed 13 sep 00


NLudd@AOL.COM on tue 12 sep 00

On Sun, 10 Sep 2000=20
Holly of East Bangor, PA, US wrote

>A cousin of mine recently married, and I just found out that her new=20
>husband's late uncle was a lifelong potter in England. His name was=20
>David Stamford Ballantyne, and he was at some point the Head of Ceramics=20
>at the Lansdowne School of Art in Bournemouth in the UK. I am curious if=20
>any of our UK members ever heard of him or if anyone knew him or his=20
>work. I wasn't able to find anything about that school on the web.

Dear Holly,

I knew David Ballantyne well, as one of his students (1971-1975) at what was=
then Bournemouth & Poole College of Art, in Dorset, England. His tenure ther=
extended from the early fifties to around 1980, I believe.=20

I am forever in awe of him, not only as a much loved teacher and mentor but=20
as a most inspiring man. Potter, engineer, architect, calligrapher, sculptor=
draughtsman, designer... he mastered whatever he set out to do, and with=20
excellent craftsmanship. David was a passionate artist craftsman. He was=20
really the reason why I chose to study ceramics at Bournemouth. It was a=20
small department, even by English standards of the time.=20

He and fellow faculty member Peter Stoodley did a sterling job of running th=
ceramics course despite poor support from a succession of Principals who wer=
cool to pottery education and did not recognise the jewel in their midst. We=
were the Cinderella department. I believe David more than once had to fight=20
to keep the course alive. =20

Of his extensive and varied range of work, including many commissions, I'm=20
fondest of his porcelain door furniture. A set would comprise a pair of=20
doorknobs, a pair of keyhole covers, and a pair of tile-like circular or ova=
disks (my fix-it-yourself manual calls them roses) that were mounted on the=20
door, covering the hole at the point where the spindle passed through the=20
wooden door. David built a small lathe to his own design so he could trim th=
previously thrown, now leatherhard doorknobs to close tolerances so that=20
well-fitting brass screws could firmly secure the hollow knob, at its=20
narrowest point, to the metal doorlatch spindle within the knob. Many of=20
these doorknobs he fluted or carved freehand. Once celadon-glazed and=20
installed in a good door, they were exquisite works of applied art, and cast=
a spell into the room. For me, moving through David's house meant enjoying a=
succession of touching visual and sensual pleasures of the most practical=20

He brought this kind of intelligence and lively attention to all sorts of=20
things in his work and his life. The two were as well married in him as he=20
was for many years to his beloved Katharine. Sadly, she did not long outlive=
her husband.

David's magnanimity to his students went beyond the call of duty. A personal=
example: When my father went ballistic on learning that his son, fresh out=20
of school, meant to be a potter, David wrote him an eloquent letter in his=20
characteristically beautiful italic hand, that won him over. It was typical=20
of David that he would do whatever he could for his students.=20

Neither will we ever forget his splendid sense of humor . It was never fa=
away when he was in the classroom. He was a wicked punster!=20

David was a man after the mould of the great Victorian artist-craftsman=20
William Morris, whose passionate liberal socialist convictions he shared. It=
was Morris who founded the association that later became the Society of=20
Designer Craftsmen, of which David was an active officer and Fellow for many=
years. All David's students at the end of the three year course were assesse=
for the B.A. equivalent College Diploma in Environmental Design - Ceramics=20
and - by an outside examiner - for licentiate membership of the Society of=20
Designer Craftsmen (LSD-C). If I recall aright the latter was harder to=20
achieve than the top grade of the diploma.

His longtime colleague Peter Stoodley probably knew David better than anyone=
outside his immediate family. I would certainly try to reach him if I were=20
you, Holly.

As Steve Mills indicated, Ceramic Review ran Peter Stoodley's article on=20
David, with color plates of his work. I am not sure of the issue number or=20
year. The magazine's email and phone numbers are -=20
(Caveat - I've known staff to take a long time to reply to email.) =20

Tel:020 7439 3377
Fax: 020 7287 9954

An approach to the Society of Designer Craftsmen might be fruitful:

Society of Designer/Craftsmen
24 Rivington Street
EC2A 3DU England

Tel: 0171-739 3663
Fax: 0171-739 3663

I'd be happy and honored to be of more help, Holly. Please feel free to=20
contact me offlist. :-)

best wishes,

(in Chico, California)