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