Titian Studio Pottery was a commercial pottery noted for its decorative ware, produced in the mid-twentieth century in New Zealand. For many years its repute in New Zealand was overshadowed by the work of the enormous company that would eventually take it over - the ubiquitous Crown Lynn. With the exception of a retrospective exhibition at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in 2004, little has been published on Titian's finer, interesting and sometimes, delightfully obscure aspects. To be sure, it received a reasonable treatment in both of Gail Henry (formerly Lambert)'s seminal books (1985 and 1999), which are currently the standard texts on the history of New Zealand commercial ceramics. However, much of the Brown family's work at Titian, particularly that of its late scion Cameron Brown, remains unknown to the wider collecting and potting community in New Zealand.
This blog aims to rectify, in small part, the gap that exists in the public's knowledge about this important pottery, its innovative glazes and the folk art aesthetic found in its important souvenir range, produced in the 1950s and 60s at a time when there was little tourism to far off New Zealand.
Some Crown Lynn forms, such as the Swan and the McAlpine fridge jug have become so iconic in recent years, that it scarcely seems possible to plug oneself into the New Zealand zeitgeist without possessing these two articles. For adroit interior decorators and design opinion makers they have become a symbolic shorthand for the essence of modern New Zealandness. This is an honour that some Titian forms could deservingly aspire to, were they but better known in this country.
I will post short articles occasionally, well illustrated with photos. As everyone knows, "pics" for a collector are the most helpful thing around. I'm not aiming to be comprehensive in my coverage of Titian. As at any pottery, much was produced there that was mediocre. Other pieces have been illustrated on the web elsewhere. This means that I'm not going to provide lists or photos of all the mould shape numbers, although there will be a bit of commentary on some aspects that are either hard to understand or a bit interesting. As all experienced collectors know, Titian's numbering system was not as simple or systematic as that at Crown Lynn.
In my view, Titian has two souls as far as a collector goes. The first is in its extraordinary range of good mid-century art glazes, the best of which are right up there with the best German and French art pottery of the same period. Therefore, photo spreads will concentrate on these glazes as exemplars of the work of Titian Studios.
Titian's second soul is to be found in its range of souvenir ware, produced as much for the domestic market as for overseas tourists. It was entirely different in character from the famous Wharetana Maori ware produced by its big competitor Crown Lynn. The style is much more that of the folk artist in its painted decorative and sgraffito work. Cameron Brown also designed his own transfers for use on ceramic articles, and these too are part of that story.
The aim is to compile a good resource for Titian and New Zealand pottery collectors, so here's hoping you enjoy the blog!