Forget modish grey minimalism, Prue Piper’s fantastical decorated earthenware zings with colour and life, testament to her love of diverse cultures, North African, South American, Indian. A collection of her pieces will be on view at Bruton’s Museum from Saturday, 5 November, until January 2017, with a small number of mugs and jugs for sale.
Museums and Nature are a source of inspiration to this member of the multi-talented Piper family: “I tend to rip off patterns, shapes, ideas from all over the world, Indonesia, Columbia, the Aztecs,” Prue says, smiling. A bio-chemist by profession, she began working with clay at lessons in Frome some 40 years ago, before going her own way.
“I learn by my mistakes, that’s how you learn,” she says. “Different things catch my eye, anything with a connection to people, and I’m very keen on repeat patterns – now you see it, now you don’t. The patterns and colours of Africa excite me, but it’s all got to be carefully done, I can’t do the designs freehand.” Moths are a recent interest, precise replicas dotted over mugs, while little insects peep from under jug handles, a Green Man plate sits alongside a daisy-decorated toast-rack.
Prue Piper’s collection of decorated masks, jugs, vases is a multi-coloured world created in her home studio near Frome in the kiln that once belonged to her father-in-law, John Piper. She shares The Old Laundry with her son Henry, a sculptor, and his family, while her other son, Luke, is well-known for his landscapes that follow in the tradition of father Edward, who died in 1990, and grandfather John. The Pipers are a very talented family.
Bruton Museum, where Prue’s work is being exhibited, was recently described as “world class” by Richard Wentworth CBE, former Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art. It is open weekdays from 11am to 1pm, Saturdays 11am to 3pm. Entry is free.