An Arts and Crafts vision: A Pot and a Lecture, Penelope Fraser
This garden pot was made around 1898 at the Compton Potters’ Arts Guild (PAG) in Surrey, established by Mary Seton Watts (1849–1938). The lecture ‘The Decorative Arts’ was given by William Morris (1834–1896) on December 4th , 1877. Although this, his first public speech, took place shortly before he became a committed socialist, Morris’s political opinions are clear: he argues for the status of craftsmen and women and their products to be valued more highly. He deplores the degenerative effects of mechanization, the profit motive and fashion. This essay will seek to compare his vision of the future of handcrafting with what the pot, the finished product of a handcrafting process, represented twenty-five years later. The comparative anonymity of Mary Watts, whose surviving pots are now costly antiques, reflects her position as the wife of one of the most fêted fine artists of the Victorian era, a role she could exploit commercially to market her products whilst diverting attention away from herself.