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'Definitive' Prestonpans Pottery Exhibition Opens with Very Special 'Tea and Pies'

Plenty to Smile About!

A lifetime's interest and three years researching and meeting and convincing one and all at the Prestoungrange Arts Festival came elegantly together in Prestonpans on Monday September 3rd. Graeme Cruickshank, Honorary Pottery Curator 2007, had something to smile about and he did.

click on all images to enlarge

His Guest of Honour for the evening launch at St Andrew's Episcopal Church was the man with perhaps the largest and finest collection of Prestonpans Pottery in the world, John Burns Senior - seen here with Graeme viewing several of the exhibits. And we can all readily guess how John and his father Sam before him so shrewdly came by that collection over the years; and be grateful too.

More than the Pies and the Tea Brought the Opening Night's Guests Along...

Some 70 + guests arrived at St Andrew's from 6.30 pm to see the first major exhibition of Prestonans pottery ever offered in Scotland. And it was accompnaied by a truly splendid book with some 400 full colour illustrations on 288 pages.

As might be expected since many of the 185 exhibits have been loaned by local Panners and neighbouring residents tea pots and fisherwives figured largely in the displays. But there was much more besides as the listing of them all indicates.

And the pies of course were created by Andrew Laurie of the Prestoungrange Gothenburg in true Belfield tradition and the teas poured from the reproduction Belfield pots used at The Prestoungrange Gothenburg since it reopened in 2004.

Pottery was the first and greatest flowering of the Arts [thus far] in Prestonpans

Almost all present at the Opening, which included many who had attended the Road Show in March with their own pots, were aware just how significant pottery was in Prestonpans from the mid 18th until the mid 20th centuries. For 200 years it was a major employer and its craftsmen gave the town an enviable reputation for their artistry. It is all recorded in the beautiful volume written by Graeme Cruickshank with Linda Sneddon as his Principal Photographer - published case bound @ 19.95 by Burke's Peerage and Prestoungrange University Press. N.B. Throughout the exhibition which closes on September 29th, the softcover sewn version is available at the special price of 10 to all who visit at St Andrew's where entrance is free.

It was for this reason that this unique and greatly distinguished aspect of the town's heritage was chosen as the Arts Festival's major focus for 2007 with its own budget of more than 20,000 and Scottish Arts Council support of 5,000 from Awards for All specifically to help stage the exhibition itself. Gordon, Baron of Prestoungrange and Chairman of the Arts Festival reflected the heartfelt gratitude of all present to Graeme for the professional dedication he has brought to the challenge over the past 3 years.

Dorothy Clyde Came Too ..

No pottery exhibition or event in Prestonpans could ever be complete or approach such a state without the presence of our 'last' Potter to work a highly successful kiln in the town at Pyper's Wynd for full score years from 1973 until her retirement in 1993. The respect and appreciation which the community has for her was reflected in an excellent collection of her pots and of the tools she used in her trade.


There are still three weeks to run for the Exhibition which is open from 11-3 on weekdays and 10 - 2 on Saturdays. Graeme will be delighted to take groups on personally conducted tours at any time - phone 0131 229 0735 to arrange them directly with him or contact the Exhibition Organiser Gillian Hart at The Prestoungrange Gothenburg on 01875 819922.

The Catalogue of the 185 items on display, cross referenced to the Prestonpans Pottery book [bold numbering in brackets refers to Figures] is here below. Click on all images to enlarge.

Published Date: September 6th 2007

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