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Ceramics : Alan Caiger-Smith and Aldermaston Pottery

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Tall vase by Alan Caiger-Smith, 1992

Reading Museum has a fine collection of work from the Aldermaston pottery, especially its founder Alan Caiger-Smith. Caiger-Smith is one of the finest British potters with an international reputation as an artist and lustreware expert. He is a local man who returned to Berkshire in the 1950s to set up a collaborative pottery at Aldermaston producing domestic wares. The pottery finally closed in 2006.

Caiger-Smith trained as a painter and always thought that decoration was an integral part of any pot, a belief that was highly unfashionable in the early days of the pottery. The Aldermaston potters spent much time experimenting with clays, tin-glazes, pigments and firing techniques. This led to the building of a unique wood-fired kiln, which in turn enabled the pottery to master reduction-fired lustre - a remarkably difficult and unpredictable tin-glaze technique that had long been ignored in Britain.

From the 1960s Reading Museum collected Aldermaston pottery, and in 1999 it was given an extraordinary lustreware collection by David Castillejo, a major patron of Caiger-Smith. The potter subsequently gave the museum a range of non-lustre pots from his own collection and the Reading Foundation for Art and the Friends of Reading Museums acquired further complementary pieces.

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