Editor's Note: The following is an interview between Marijke Varrall Jones (referrred to below as M) and an anonymous collector (referred to below as J) whose collection was sold at Maak, in November, 2019. The interview took place on September 9, 2019, and the collector begins with a brief history of their collecting.
My husband and I began our interest in ceramic pottery in the 1970s, Miami ‘Coconut Grove’ was mostly a hippy colony, mostly crafts stores and galleries.
We bought our first ceramic piece in a place called ‘Grove House,’ which was an artist studio and as I became interested in the process, I took a ceramic handbuilding course there from a local artist in the early 1970s. We also joined the local ceramics league.
My husband, who is a physician who didn’t have much time on his hands, was also the intellectual and ended up going to a local art bookstore where he happened to buy a book by Bernard Leach, Hamada Pottery by Bernard Leach. Both of us read it and we were absolutely fascinated by the artist, the history, and the process. We both started subscribing to pottery magazines in the UK.
We decided our first trip to the UK would be to St. Ives and Leach Pottery. This started our love affair with British studio ceramics. American studio ceramics were just too expensive at the time, and completely out of our financial range. My husband was a starting physician and we had two young children. We figured we could start in with something that was, more or less, starting at the beginning.At this point we ended up sending away for auction catalogues.
M: And, so where did you come across the auctions?
J: We came across Sotheby’s and Christie's. We paid for the auction catalogues, read up about them and, since there was no internet, we bid on the phone. Our first Lucie Rie piece we purchased through Sotheby’s in 1982, and also a Hans Coper. We had it arranged through customs to have everything shipped back to us and we did that all on our own.
M: So the first piece you bought back at Grove House, that was obviously an American maker at that time, but do you remember the first British piece you bought?
That first Lucie Rie piece, but wait let me continue....