When Michael Cardew
left St. Ives in 1926 to take on the then disused
Winchcombe Pottery, he needed help and turned to the
wonderfully named Elijah Comfort who had worked at
the pottery before it closed down. Elijah was happy
to get back to his old routine of making domestic
earthenware for everyday use, these pots sold well
and provided Cardew with a steady income. That was
a very long time ago but Winchcombe Pottery has remained
a production pottery, these days concentrating on
more durable stoneware.
Last year I attended the ClayArt Wales festival up
in Ruthin where one of the featured events was a slipware
firing in the traditional wood-fired bottle kiln.
Paul Young was in charge and one of the helpers was
Matt Grimmitt who I later found out is the Great,
Great grandson of Elijah Comfort.
Three years ago Matt was running a multi million
pound sales depot for a food distribution company.
He became disillusioned with his work and one day
could take no more so he enrolled on a part time pottery
course at Evesham College. A few years earlier, prompted
by stories that his Grandmother told him about Elijah,
he had started collecting old Winchcombe slipware.
His grandmother was sad that there were very few of
Elijah’s pots left in the family due mainly
to the fact it all got used and broken over time.
Like many of us, Matt started trawling through eBay,
looking for pots. Buying a piece of old Winchcombe
slipware made by Elijah from slipware potter Doug
Fitch became a life-changing event for Matt as Doug
invited him to spend a week at his Devon pottery making
pots. Before the end of the week Matt knew that he
had found his true vocation and he hasn’t looked
Matt really enjoys making old country pot shapes
such as Pancheons, Moneyboxes, Jugs and Costrels.
Not very practical for today’s use but he just
loves making them. At the moment he uses an electric
kiln but hopes to soon be wood firing. Matt and Doug
are working on an updraught oil drum kiln which would
fit snuggly in his small garden and hopefully not
smoke the neighbours out too much!
You can learn more about Matt from his blog at www.wwwfaline.blogspot.com.