Gubbio honors Alan Caiger-Smith

Sept. 6, 2008 – January 11, 2009
Gubbio, Italy

AlanGubbio honors Alan Caiger-Smith Caiger-Smith ranks among the most important British ceramicists of the past half-century, definitely the most important living artist specializing in lustre pottery. His work is known in a number of museums, in Europe, USA and Australia.

Gubbio is the home of the Italian lustreware thanks to the undisputed fame of Mastro Giorgio Andreoli, who settled here in 1498 and elaborated a lustre technique that was to become the Italian standard of excellence for Renaissance pottery and the times to come.

Gubbio and Alan Caiger-Smith’s paths crossed for the first time in 2005 when the British artist was invited to an international conference.
As reported by Ettore Sannipoli, the curator of the exhibition about to start, Caiger-Smith had a positive sharing of experiences with the local potters. Giampietro Rampini, one of the best Gubbio potters, invited him to his workshop and the two of them worked together on some lusterware techniques.

The exhibition “Gubbio honors Alan Caiger-Smith” will feature 25 works from his last kiln firing in 2006 and some 30 pieces representing his artistic evolution.

The artist specificallyLarge bowl with amber-silver and copper-red vapoured lustre decoration, 1998 - Alan Caiger-Smith - Credits: requested that his studio pieces be complemented by the works of Umbrian potters who are familiar with the Italian tin glazing technique so as to highlight how the lustre pottery has never ceased to charm the daring potter.

Building on the magic of Number Three – the artist’s three-letter acronym ACS, three Saints protecting Gubbio, and the symbolic repetition of number three in the Eugubine Tables – the exhibition will feature three works by three artists from Deruta, Gualdo Tadino and Gubbio, that is 27 works made in Italian towns where the lustre technique has always been a relevant symbol of the tradition of pottery making.

Excellent potters have been invited to represent Umbria lustreware tradition:

  • Giulio Busti, Patrizio Chiucchiù and Marino Ficola from Deruta
  • Graziano Pericoli, Maurizio Tittarelli Bubboli and Ceramica “Vecchia Gualdo” from Gualdo Tadino
  • Lucia Angeloni, Katia Balzelli and Giampietro Rampini from Gubbio.

A special section of the exhibition will honor the memory of Alan Peascod, the British-born Australian ceramicist who passed away in January 2007.

Peascod had a very special relationship both with Caiger-Smith and with Gubbio.

Pictures of his works were used by the British ceramicist and writer in his renowned book Lustre Pottery to show the world the meaning and relevance of the lustre technique in the making of Art. Indeed Caiger-Smith happened to say that he had a very “enjoyable exchanges of knowledge and working methods” with Peascod, especially thanking him “for his dynamic approach to new possibilities of lustre technique and design”.

The exhibition will feature some of Peascod’s tin-glazed ceramics, most of them made in Gubbio in the workshop of his friend Giampietro Rampini.

The catalog of the exhibition is edited by Ettore Sannipoli, with a Preface by Timothy Wilson, Keeper of the Department of Western Arts of the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford with curatorial responsibilities of Decorative Arts (especially ceramics). The Ashmolean Museum holds an important collection of Italian pottery, including some pieces by Mastro Giorgio Andreoli.

Tribute to Alan Caiger-Smith
Palazzo dei Consoli – Sala dell’Arengo
Info: 0039 075 9220693


Learn more about Alan Caiger-Smith

Alan Caiger-Smith was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1930. He went to England as an infant in 1932 where he studied Art and Crafts in Camberwell and trained in pottery at the Central School of Art & Design in London.

In 1955 he settled in Berkshire and established the world-famous Aldermaston Pottery in partnership with Geoffrey Eastop. Over the years the Pottery has been home to many fine potters, who worked both as a team, for production work, and individually, for studio pieces. The Pottery was renowned for its tin-glaze and porcelain wares.

Alan Caiger-Smith ceased employing assistants in 1993 to concentrate on personal work and in 2006 announced his decision to sell the Aldermaston Pottery.

The British ceramicist revived two virtually lost techniques: the use of tin glaze and painted pigments on red clay and the demanding technique of reduction-fired lustre pottery.

His studio pieces are deeply influenced by Muslim and Eastern Art – large, calligraphic brush strokes and vegetal scrolls creating an interplay of decorative elements – which he originally combined with contemporary trends, among them the Arts and Crafts movement, the Art Nouveau Japanism and the informal Zen art.

As a writer, he hugely contributed to the understanding and the application of the lustre technique.
His book Tin-Glaze Pottery in Europe and the Islamic World: The Tradition of 1000 Years in Maiolica, Faience and Delftware (1973) traces the history and techniques of lustre ware and Lustre Pottery: Technique, Tradition and Innovation in Islam and the Western World (1985) is a real milestone in the knowledge of tin glazed pottery.

He also co-translated and annotated I Tre Libri Dell’Arte Del Vasaio (The Three Books of the Potter’s Art), by Cipriano Piccolpasso, a detailed contemporary description of the materials and methods used in Italian pottery making during the Renaissance.

Learn more about Alan Peascod

Alan Peascod (1943-2007) is one of Australia’s most acclaimed ceramic artists, whose creativity has been widely recognized throughout the world.

His father, an abstract expressionist textural painting, influenced Alan’s creative interest that was soon stimulated by ceramics. In this field the artist was allowed to explore the relationship between surface and form that he translated in a rich visual and tactile density.

His Art was widely influenced by past cultures and civilizations. He never stopped researching and his mind was always open to different and often challenging aesthetic ideas which, filtered by his unique artistic sensitivity, resulted in a richness and breadth of work rarely seen.

A milestone in his creative process was his meeting with Said el-Sadr, an Egyptian who was experimenting with reduced lustre ceramics in 1972. His interest in tin glazes eventually led Peascod to travels in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Spain and Europe to study Islamic ceramics.

In his words, “How serendipitous, how chancy our meeting was! It leaves me breathless to think that in the space of a few moments the direction of my creative life altered entirely. This meeting with him had possibly the greatest single impact on my entire career. If we had not met I am sure my work would have lacked the dimension it gained in my later career thanks to Said’s teaching and my exposure to quite lateral, quite different points of view.”

He was both emotionally and intellectually seduced by the Muslim ancient value systems and by their creative achievements, whose beauty of images and inspired use of color he found to be as great as the humility of the potters and artists.

Islamic Art taught him that learning the details of a specific technique to exactly repeat it is not, in essence, important: certainly less important than imagination.
As a consequence not technology but attitudes towards material behaviour before and during firing enable the artists to develop their unique artistic identity.

He thus challenged many widely accepted practices and became a world authority on a range of new techniques and materials that have now become commonplace throughout the ceramics world, including firing techniques, lustre and dry glazes.

He also published a number of articles surrounding his research as well as giving students the benefit of his extensive knowledge.

Alan’s influence can be seen in many ceramic artists’ work today, having taught some 30 years in Australia and overseas.

Peascod was also a tireless traveler, not only in Middle East but also in Europe, where he worked with potters, exchanging ideas and techniques and seeking to understand attitudes and philosophies.
He regarded the lustre field as a highly potential platform for collaborative activity with artists in other countries.

In 1999 he traveled to Gubbio, the place where lusterware had its more skilled artist, Mastro Giorgio. Here he met the renowned Italian potter Giampietro Rampini and worked with him on a major project analyzing 16th century lustre sherds. When this research began, Peascod became deeply interested in Renaissance majolica methods and started to experiment on them.

In 2002 he was invited to Gubbio by Giampietro Rampini and accepted the challenge to create his personal version of the Brocche dei Ceri, then featured in the exhibition Brocche d’Autore. A solo exhibition of his works was organized in the same year in Gubbio.

Peascod worked, did residencies and gave lectures and workshops internationally. His work is held in public collections in China, Spain, Germany, New Zealand and Italy as well as in Australia and in addition to those countries he exhibited in England, Canada, Switzerland, Japan and the USA.

3 thoughts on “Gubbio honors Alan Caiger-Smith

  1. I’m NOT Italian howevere, I entered into the teachings of ACS in the latest development in my pottery. I livein Florence, New Jersey. My whole family are artists. Painters, murals, sculptors, jeweler, glas s and pottery, we do it for our livelyhoods.

    I worked 13 yrs in archaeological laboratory working with many types of pottery.I made / experimented making the pottery at night. My 2002 reseaRCH paper on native clays in 17-18th c redware pottery. Since then tin-glaze. I am reading on luster and Aldermaston, etc…

    Courious to have met your 10/09 posting.

  2. I lived in Florence for a number of years, and now that I have worked in reduced lustre for 12 years, would be pleased to make contact with any Italian potters using this process.

  3. Alan has been a great inspiration to me- particularly in his work with reduction fired lustre. This most challenging of ceramic techniques also yields rich rewards for those who have the patience and determination to persist. His book Lustre Pottery is both scholarly and practical, and generous in its sharing of knowledge which for so many years has been carefully guarded. Those who work with this technique have alot to be grateful to Alan for.

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