DVD of the week: Richard Batterham, Master Potter

DVD of the week: Richard Batterham, Master Potter

Words Emma O’Kelly
Photographs Martin Crook

When we met Richard Batterham, the reluctant, reclusive legend of pottery, for Issue 10, he told writer Emma O’Kelly how, instead of worrying himself over ‘offensive’ designs that might sell, he prefers to do things on his own terms, in his own way, the only way he knows how…

Now, a new film by Alex J Wright, Richard Batterham, Master Potter, explores this singular and inspiring maker (with all proceeds going to the Joanna Bird Foundation). The last in the line of apprentices of the great Bernard Leach, Batterham isn’t one for hype and bluster. He pointedly calls himself a potter, never a ceramicist, and rejects attempts to categorise his work beyond its intended use.

The film captures him in his 80th year, as modest and unpretentious as ever. You can order the DVD via the Joanna Bird Foundation – meanwhile, here are a few of the many highlights from our interview with him…

On the making process
‘You can’t just pop a pot in the kiln as if it were a stew’

On modern attitudes to making
‘These days young ones are more interested in marketing than making anything. Just get on and make it. There’s this idea that everything has to be in vast quantities, but that’s impossible when there’s just one of you. I think people are beginning to realise what they’ve lost. We’ll see…’


On mobile phones
‘Argh those damn things! Who needs them?’

On art school
‘That’s chaos. They’ve got the wrong end of the stick’

On his motivation
‘There’s always an assumption there’s something behind an idea, that it must come from somewhere. But you don’t have to bother about any of that… I like to make something you can hold. If someone really hugs onto a pot, that’s lovely and just how it should be’

On selling out
‘I don’t do brash. Or blue. I don’t like it, though it would sell well’

Order the film via the Joanna Bird Foundation


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