The Burslem School of Artists
The Burslem School of artist group is one which is very rich with talent. During the 20th century a wealth of creativity, education and thinking in design filtered through the Potteries education system and its creative output.
Driven by ambitious and free thinking principals of the town's art schools, pottery manufacture design departments, demanding best of, and education grants provided by local societies such as The Rotary Club helping disadvantaged students from the working class communities have the chance of a further education at nationally important Art Schools such as the Royal College, The Slade, Edinburgh School of Art thereby seeing Potteries artists rubbing shoulders with the best of British artists of the 20th century.
So its a rich seam of coal and clay which runs through the ground of the Potteries and this mineral deposit has helped to form a stong backdrop to localised quality production in fine art and ceramics. It is no surpise that Burslem Art School opened therefore before Manchester Art School. It is also no surpise that each of the 6 towns had art schools of their own although Burslem became the main focus under the steward of Scot Gordon Forsyth who joined after leading a strong output in art pottery as head of design at Pilkingtons the famous northern tile makers. Now in 2019 his heraldic lustre hand painted designs for Pilkingtons are commanding tens of thousands at the auction rooms across the world. He was aware of the business persepective as well as the idea of best of design in pottery but also across many media favoured from the arts and crafts period. His large stained glass window located at the Burslem School of Art made in 1932 shows the interest he had making artwork of permanance albeit one which he produced through training of the students. Outside of the school he became involved in the training of the people by setting up a junior art school, Portland House for students from age 11 onwards who would become the students of the future or the apprentices of the design departments of the likes of Doultons, Spode, Mintons and so forth. He also became engrossed in the building of the Catholic churches in the towns Burslem and Tunstall where he oversaw Saturday morning classes in stained glass at the beautiful now grade II* listed Wedgwood Institute. His daughter Moira Forsyth also grew to become a full time stained glass artists, working on many major commissions.
It is therefore no surprise that this climate brought out the best in the artists that attended Burslem School of Art. This expert tuition continued with a new wave of lecturers including ex pupils Arthur Berry, Enos Lovatt and Tony Wild.
The art school system was swallowed up by the Polytechnic system brought in across the country. This changed the art school system forever, leaving specialised education in art off the agenda until higher education at 18 onwards.
Artists to collect who attended the Burslem School of Art include: