Over the last 20 years Iâ€™ve been lucky enough to turn a life-long interest in â€œold thingsâ€ into my current day jobs â€“ auctioneering in Emsworth Auctions and running an antiques & collectables shop, Emsworth Antiques Etc. in the townâ€™s West Street.
I promised to tell you a bit more about the work of rising star of Carn Pottery â€˜collectablesâ€™ which we stock in the shop; in particular the Owls & Pussy Cats.
Most of John Beusmanâ€™s work is designed to be used : vases, containers or lamps. Whilst both owls and cats appear as decorative motifs on various sized pots and vases (plate 1), the earliest design, code 1 belonged to a range of small, solid owls he produced up until the early 70s (plate 2). Standing only a couple of inches high, they are too small to be stamped or signed so recognition rests on experience.
Aged about 16 John produced these small owls in a variety of glazes and colours, taking the idea from an established potter friend. I have an example of one such scarce non-Carn owl in my own collection as well as a number of Johnâ€™s.
However, one of the most charming Carn Pottery figures is Mowser (plate 3), the heroine of the Cornish â€˜Mousehole Catâ€™ legend. She has a fish with her because â€“ thanks to her skill and loyalty â€“ her pet fisherman Tom managed to survive a terrifying storm at sea and brought home such a phenomenal catch that he saved his fellow Mousehole folk from ruin and starvation. So in gratitude for her valiant work Mowser always has a fish for her supper.
Thus the tradition and landscape of Cornwall continue to feature in John Beusmanâ€™s work, which is still developing â€“ new shapes, motifs and glazes. I wonder what he will do next?