Obituary: David Lloyd-Jones
Saturday 29 January 1994
DAVID LLOYD-JONES was a thoughtful potter who made pots for use around the home which were functional, skilfully made and attractive to look at.
Like many who took up studio pottery after being involved in another career, Lloyd-Jones brought to his work a deep commitment and a clear and inspiring sense of direction. Pots for him were things to use and enjoy, objects 'firmly rooted in usefulness'. He made pots to serve as containers of some sort, and most were thrown on the potter's wheel. Glazes were rich, deep and lustrous while his decoration subtly enhanced the form of the pot. Level- headed and unassuming, he was a potter who merged common sense with a sharp eye for design and overall effect, making pots which combined the use of traditional high-firing techniques of the Far East with an awareness of what suited modern life.
Lloyd-Jones first became aware of pots and pottery during army service in India after the war, where he saw village potters at work swiftly making pots for a local market. The impression of skill and satisfaction he witnessed remained a vivid memory. In the 1950s he attended Guildford Art School, 'doing some pottery' with Helen Pincombe, a highly respected potter and teacher who had studied under William Staite Murray. Despite his enjoyment of clay, he became involved in his father-in-law's cinema-owning business in Yorkshire for 11 years.
Perhaps aware of a growing interest in pottery, he purchased a second-hand Leach kick-wheel in 1959, although it was another three years before he set up his own studio at Fulford, York, supported by his wife, June. Very much in tune with the times, David Lloyd-Jones was virtually self-taught, learning the craft as he worked, well aware of current trends and moods. A kiln was built which provided the sorts of subtle effects he admired.
Like many of his contemporaries, Lloyd-Jones greatly admired the ideas and philosophy of Bernard Leach, who imbued the work of the potter with an almost mystical sense in which the potter and the pots were seen as one. Sensibly, Lloyd-Jones responded to the breadth of Leach's ideas rather than seeking to emulate his work, and over the next 10 years his own warm, assured style slowly evolved. In many ways Lloyd-Jones stands as a model in that he admired but was not overwhelmed by such a powerful influence as Leach, whose distinctive, orientally inspired aesthetic could be so stultifying. Lloyd-Jones found his own voice, combining a sure sense of what suited him with processes and effects that produced the sorts of results he liked.
Ever alert to new ideas and processes, he learnt how to create large forms using the 'coil and throw' technique. This involved throwing a base on to which coils of clay were added and then smoothed and refined to produce dynamic and lively shapes. He built a small additional kiln for salt glazing, experimenting with surface textures and, for a time, hand-built forms. But the bedrock of his work was high-quality pots, made in stoneware or porcelain, thrown on the potter's wheel. They were confident, clear in aim and definition.
Keen to encourage the growing public awareness in studio pottery, Lloyd-Jones became a member of the Craftsmen Potters Association in the 1970s and was elected as a council member in the 1980s. For three years he served as Chairman, a position to which he brought sound common sense, level judgement and, most importantly, an enthusiasm for pots which was ably communicated to others. At this time he possessed a powerful motorbike and enjoyed driving from York to London in record time, thrilled by the speed and the open road.
Exhibitions in London and elsewhere consolidated his success. Unlike many potters he preferred, rather than produce work specially for exhibitions, to make them a selection of the finest pots made over a period of time. His pots were acquired by notable institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Crafts Council and by many other museums, a recognition of skilled making, overall concept and a pleasing warmth; in 1989 York University awarded him an honorary doctorate. Resisting the urge to make ceramics which shocked or provoked, Lloyd-Jones produced pots which were calm and quietly satisfying, their qualities growing with greater acquaintance.
Five years ago Lloyd-Jones was taken ill with heart trouble; regular spells in hospital since Christmas seemed to promise recovery, but plans for new work and a retrospective were brought to an end by his sudden death.
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