Ceramics : Alan Caiger-Smith and Aldermaston Pottery
Reading Museum has a extensive collection of work from the Aldermaston pottery, especially its founder Alan Caiger-Smith. Caiger-Smith (1930 - 2020) was one of the finest twentieth century British potters with an international reputation as an artist and lustreware expert. He was 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 other examples. The commentary and technical details about pigments and glazes were provided by Alan Caiger-Smith and are explained in 'Alan Caiger-Smith and Aldermaston Pottery 1955 - 1993', 1993 Alan Caiger-Smith.