THIS week’s object is a fine example of an incredibly productive studio whose innovative work brought artistic acclaim to Cricklade.

Potter Ivan Martin and his wife Kay founded the Cricklade Pottery in 1951 and for more than 20 years it produced an array of wonderful household containers that were at once beautiful and practical.

The Martins worked in an era when even the most basic household items were cherished and looked after. In those days, there was no Ikea or Wilkos boasting shelves piled high with cheap imports.

At a time when rationing was only just a thing of the past and the cost of the war was still being heavily borne, money was scarce and to many, pots and pans were just as much of an heirloom as jewellery. They were loved for their own sake and not just dumped when the family fancied a change of colour scheme or because some TV chef advocated a trendier design.

Ivan Martin was a student at the famous Winchcombe studio for four years from 1947.

Winchcombe studio was set up by visionary craftsman Michael Cardew in 1926 on the site of an older pottery that had closed in 1914. Cardew and two partners began producing beautiful household items using the slipware method of production.

This entailed decorating items by dripping or painting a thin emulsion of clay and water, often also containing other items like quartz, to produce intricate patterns with contrasting colours. The finished items were glazed and then fired in a kiln.

The rich red clay found around the Gloucestershire studio provided the perfect material for its output.

Martin was taught using a kick wheel, instead of a motorised version. The potter ‘kicks’ the wheel to keep it spinning, which requires great balance, timing and strength.

After four years of tutelage, Martin set up in Cricklade, an area similarly blessed with clay, to launch his own work. To begin with, the influence of the heavy and hard-wearing Winchcombe style was obvious but gradually his work became thinner and more intricate.

The ceramic jug shown here is typical of his output. He often worked in deep browns and blues as well as greens and yellows. The patterns look simple at first glance but they are beautifully symmetric and require great skill to accomplish.

Each item was stamped with the Cricklade mark and that soon became a hallmark of quality around the world.

The studio closed in 1975 and Ivan Martin died in 1979 but his name and his work live on through the collection in Swindon Museum and with enthusiasts all over the world.

A quick look at eBay will tell you that his work is highly prized and items that come up for sale are soon snapped up.

The museum has many pieces from other Wiltshire potters and modern and contemporary producers from across the country, but it is Martin’s work that truly represents a local craftsman at the top of his game.

You can find out more about Swindon’s story at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm.

To back the bid or give feedback on the plans for a new museum and art gallery, complete the form at www.swindonmuseum.org.uk/contact/ or email info@swindonmuseum.org.uk