On 5th December 2023, the Henley Archaeological and Historical Group enjoyed seasonal treats and an extensively illustrated presentation by the practising potter Jane White on the work of Alan Caiger-Smith and the studio he established at Aldermaston.
Alan founded his studio in 1955, in a former blacksmith’s shop acquired for only £500. His work revived the then-unfashionable decorated tin-glaze pottery and lustre-ware, and was inspired by pottery from mediaeval Iraq, Spain, and Italy. He was soon joined by Geoffrey Eastop – later to become John Piper’s potter – and about 60 other assistants. Alan was very keen for him and his assistants to become involved in all stages of the production process, from preparation of the clay to decoration, glazing, and firing, to understand how each stage affected the eventual outcome.
On leaving Aldermaston Pottery, his assistants were able to set up on their own and practised their skills around the world – India, Australia, Ireland, and America. The Pottery itself closed finally in 2006 and Alan died in 2020, but his work lives on in collections.