They say good things come in threes, and it’s certainly true of today’s broadcast. Arts writer David Whiting introduces us to the wonderful world of Robert Dawson, painter of forgotten places and close friend of the late Sir Kyffin Williams who thought his depictions of the Welsh borderlands ‘sensuous and romantic’. Then gallery founder Mike Goldmark tells the story behind Sir John Tenniel’s world-famous illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice adventures, followed by a trip back in time to potter Phil Rogers firing his wood kiln for only the second time back in 2008. We hope you enjoy.
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Robert Dawson was born in 1926. Leaving school at 17, Dawson was offered a scholarship to Stoke-on-Trent College of Art, but was persuaded by his mother to join a solicitor’s office. Aged 22, Dawson joined a touring dance band, performing in US Airforce bases in Germany. After studying English and Art at Clarendon College, Nottingham, in 1965, he trained as a primary school teacher.
Dawson, a great collector and lover of art, was also a member of the Staffordshire Society of Artists and had several solo exhibitions. In 1973 and 1974 he won the Holbrook Prize at Nottingham Castle Museum. When Dawson died in 1997, he left a substantial body of work. Among his papers were the drafts for Painters and their Houses.
Sir John Tenniel
Born in London in 1820, Sir John Tenniel was the principal political cartoonist for England’s Punch magazine for over 50 years and illustrated Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, which are considered to be his finest and most enduring achievement. They must also rank among the world’s best-known children’s images.
An ultimate tribute came to an elderly Tenniel as he was honoured as a living national treasure and for his public service was knighted in 1893 by Queen Victoria. The first such honour ever bequeathed on an illustrator or cartoonist, his fellows saw his knighting as an important step in raising what had been considered a fairly lowly profession to an unprecedented level of respectability.
Phil Rogers was born in Newport, Gwent in 1951. He attended Newport and Swansea Colleges of Art and had originally intended to become a painter. While still at college in the early 1970s Rogers and a friend taught themselves to throw. Their only guidance came from Bernard Leach’s A Potter’s Book and their throwing practice came in the form of competitions to see who could produce the biggest pot.
Rogers has written respected books on ash glazes, throwing techniques and salt glazing. He has run workshops and lectured all over the world, most notably in South Korea and the USA and his work is held in more than 50 museums worldwide. In 2011 Rogers won the prestigious Vasefinder International prize for the best vase in the world.