‘The Lucie Rie’

My mother always referred to her favourite collection of pottery as ‘The Lucie Rie’. This was a recurring refrain in my childhood.

Lucie Rie teapot (mrscarmichael)

“Don’t touch The Lucie Rie.” (self explanatory)

“Be careful that’s too close to The Lucie Rie.” (about any dangerous/ugly article breathing The LR’s blessed air)

“I’ll use The Lucie Rie.” (special occasions only)

And “Get down you’ll break The Lucie Rie!”

I did. The shards of smashed coffee pot glinted at me, still half way up the dresser, from their resting place on the kitchen floor. That evening I was closer to getting a smack than at any other time in my childhood. But even worse that that was the sight of my father holding my mother as she cried in his arms and I turned tight circles on my tricycle in the front yard pretending I didn’t care.

I was, as a child, not only fearful of the power of The Lucie Rie but also slightly embarrassed by it. Plain white and black studio pieces that resembled nothing in my friends’ homes. No, I did not respect or particularly like our Lucie Rie pottery.

Lucie Rie drinking beakers (mrscarmichael)

When my mother died and I was cleaning out her house I managed, in my state of agitation, sadness and heavy pregnancy to lose some things I now really wish I hadn’t. A Charles Eames chair and footstool (circa 1964), my university essays, a Mies van der Rohe coffee table (circa 1977), a number of original prints and paintings and two Bernard Leach casserole dishes. This is not a complete list but serves to illustrate not only how much design taste my parents had but also how much I did not appreciate that faction my parlous state.

But I did keep The Lucie Rie. Even then it wasn’t for me. I kept it because my mother had loved it so much and I am glad I did. 

Lucie Rie was making stunning one off pieces until 1990, five years before her death at 93. She was Austrian but moved to London and worked from the same studio in Paddington for more that fifty years. She, like my mother, admired Bernard Leach and his notion of the ‘completeness’ of a pot. She died a Dame of the British Empire and her Albion Mews studio has now been reconstructed in the V and A museum in South Kensington. Go and see the brilliance.

There are also pieces of hers in the MOMA (NY) for those across the pond.

Lucie Rei bowl (mrscarmichael)
Lucie Rie bowl (mrscarmichael)

And then, of course, there are my mother’s pots, cups, saucers, drinking mugs and bowls. I love each one. Exquisitely yet simply made they need nothing but clear, clean space around them to look stunning and in every piece there shines out not only the amazingly creative potter so ahead of her time but also a little bit of my mother.

Lucie Rie coffee pot (mrscarmichael)
Lucie Rie coffee pot (mrscarmichael)

I hope you enjoy them and please, do post me a photo if you are lucky enough to have been bitten by ‘The Lucie Rie’ bug too.

Lucie Rie cups and saucers (mrscarmichael)
Lucie Rie cups and saucers (mrscarmichael)
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22 thoughts on “‘The Lucie Rie’

  1. Hi, I am really interested in this post – so much is written about Lucie’s one off works but so little about the tableware she made with Hans Coper. I am currently researching Rie and Coper’s tableware and the values and meanings people who own/come into contact with it attach to it. It would be great for you to get in touch with me if possible. I have left my email address in the box below.

    1. Hi there, I’m not quite sure where to find your email address but if you write to me on mine – listed under Bits and Bobs I will get back to you. What a great topic to research!

  2. Reblogged this on being mrscarmichael and commented:

    This post is popping back up for a number of reasons: 1) It was Mother’s Day in most of the world including New Zealand (where I was mothered) yesterday 2) It is the most popular post I have written, getting hits on almost a daily basis 3) I’ve been contacted by a museum archivist about my collection and have completed a ‘material culture’ analysis of my pottery – its appeal, its use, its history. That was a lot of fun. And 4) because I’m just so lucky to be the keeper of these pieces. Thanks, Mum.

    1. Lovely post. I’m glad you kept some of your parents’ things; they had great taste! I belong to a family of anti-hoarders; so bad that my dad used to clear our plates before we’d finished eating. His sister-in-law cleaned out my grandad’s house when he died and threw everything (really, literally) out before my dad and his brother had a chance to look through it. Even now (almost 50 years later) my mother gets wistful about the antique silverware she chucked out – not to mention photos, letters….. aaagh!

      1. there’s naught as queer as folk. Throwing out photos, Su that is crazy!
        So many fights caused by house cleaning out that I know of. I cannot blame it on anyone but myself which is probably better.

  3. I’m glad you shared this again as I wasn’t in the blogging world last year so otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to see this beautiful pottery or read the beautiful sentiment.

  4. Beautiful. It’s hard, when a parent dies, what to take and what to let go of. Of course, my parents didn’t have any Lucie Rie, but I’ve got two boxes of stuff from my mother that have been staring at me since July.

  5. Such a wonderful post- thanks for introducing me to Lucy Rie! I’m off to MoMA to check it out. For me, it was my mother warning us off handling her mother’s 1930s Fiestaware. Although brightly colored, it shares the simple clean lines. Thanks for reposting!

    1. I will google Fiestaware and take some photos in MoMA for me if you get there, please. I haven’t been to New York for at least five years so am due a visit myself.
      Oh and thanks for the praise too, always most palatable.

  6. I think she must have influenced many potters. I’ve just been to a contemporary craft fair in Devon and there were lots of exquisite pieces in a similar vein. It’s lovely to have objects in your possession which remind you of your mum. Great post.

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