Mike Strange’s Majolica Bowls - Click here to view the images
The tradition of “MAJOLICA” which applies a tin based glaze to biscuit fired earthenware pots, providing a white surface which is then decorated by the application of oxides and under-glazes, has a long history. Its origins can be traced back to the colourful influence of Islamic art combined with Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Egyptian, Persian and Turkish traditions. The technique enables the artist to radically adapt the visual image of the pot so that, in some cases, its form becomes almost secondary to the impact of the painting or design which is applied. Examples of this tradition still live on in Italy and Spain. Tin glazed earthenware is also the basis of French “Faience” and Dutch and English “Delftware”. Minton Majolica, developed in Britain in the 1840’s, was initially inspired by this technique but was stylistically unrelated to the classical Maiolica tradition.
Bernard Leach, writing in the 1940’s dismissed Italian Maiolica “as generally weak, ornate and closely allied to third rate Renaissance painting”! Michael Cardew described Maiolica as distorting the majesty of form. This conservative view represented the tradition of craft potters which dominated in the 1960’s, when rather colourless domestic stoneware dominated the market. Tin glaze enjoyed a brief post-war revival, under the influence of William Newland, who was inspired by the ceramics of Picasso. The tradition of making functional pottery, which is colourfully decorated in a maiolica style, has continued in the work of Daphne Carnegy and others. As a contrast, Post-Modernist influences seek to use the technique of tin glaze to promote more abstract designs and non-functional forms.
Mike’s approach is to create hand thrown functional pieces on a wheel, like bowls and planters, but to enhance their appeal by using the techniques of tin glaze to create colourful representations of Pears, Oranges Lemons, Fish, Dragon-Flies, Butterflies, Poppies, Lobsters, Crabs and Boats. Mike and his wife Lisbeth enjoy camping in wild locations like Brittany, Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, and some of the inspiration for his work comes from the colourful sub-tropical beauty of the flora and fauna viewed against the sea and cliffs and fishing villages of these special places. The vivid experience of these images inspire the paintings which adorn his pots.