Tremaen Pottery

I can’t resist an antiques fair. I get all itchy and jumpy if I drive past one, and usually end up turning my car around. Exactly that happened yesterday as I went down to visit my parents for lunch. As I passed through Ripley in Surrey, I noticed that a small Sunday fair I used to visit over 10 years ago was delightfully still taking place. In I popped and, 10 minutes later, out I came with a smile and these two lovely 1970s Tremaen pottery lampbases – for £10 each!
The Tremaen pottery was founded by Peter Ellery in 1965 in Marazion near Newlyn in Cornwall. Trained in fine art and ceramics at Bath College, he was inspired by the Cornish landscape around him, with many of his forms and glazes being taken from smooth, rounded pebbles found on local beaches. He was also inspired by natural motifs, such as cow parsley and grasses and  – like many West Country potters of the period – by ancient runic symbols. Many of his forms are also reminiscent of sculptures by fellow Cornish artist Barbara Hepworth. Although based in nature, most of his patterns are strongly abstracted. The pottery moved to Newlyn in 1967 and, despite being successful into the 1970s, increasing difficulties forced the company to close in 1988.
Over the past few years, interest in and values for Tremaen have begun to rocket as more and more are drawn to his earthy, tactile designs. Few pieces are marked, and few recognise the mark – this is still a new area, so there are bargains a plenty if you look. Lampbases were a classic and core product, and prices today generally range from £20-70 depending on size, but the largest examples covered with runic symbols can easily go over £100. Even though it’s three decades old, the ‘Nanceddan’ example on the left (above) still looks incredibly contemporary, whilst the ‘Bowjey’ example on the right clearly shows the inspiration of pebbles and the colours of the Cornish landscape. I think the market for Tremaen will continue to grow as interest widens, so keep your eyes peeled. To help you, I can recommend visiting the excellent Tremaen Pottery website by clicking here. As well as a history, identification and shape guide you can even find instructions on how to remake the hessian lampshades that would have originally adorned them!

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