My interest (& subsequent career) in animation was sparked some time before I took these photographs and I had visited the Martinware Room on many occasions when using the library from junior school onwards, until we moved out of the area.

I was instantly struck by how lively and animated the expressions were on these ceramics and how they were almost begging to be made to move – in fact the expressions play a large part in the impact of various pieces since they seem to be almost alive and demanding attention from the viewer in a way that conventional pottery does not – there is a tradition in the Arts & Crafts movement (of which the Martin Brothers were followers) and later Art Nouveau to explore the idea of inanimate objects having a life of their own that can be traced back further to ancient Greek & Roman myths about statues coming to life – The Martin Brothers imbued their designs with a sense of life that is closer to the work of Disney etc however, since it incorporates caricature and exaggeration rather than straight observation from life.

The figurative pots and “grotesques” comprise a kind of eerie menagerie that must have looked very weird to anyone stepping into the shop they had in London – like a strange fantasy land populated by cheeky bird life and conspiratorial pots and mugs…

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