I was lucky enough, amid a university course of hitoric interiors and the wonders of plaster and paint, to spend some time immersed in the archive of Michael Stratton at the Ironbridge Institute.
As it had been described as his travel notes, perhaps foolishly, I was expecting a few notebooks and collected travel documents. I was pretty stunned therefore,to find 60 box files of catalogues, documentation, notes, anotated maps, guidebooks, as well as more thorough notes for his book Terracotta Revival that was published in 1991.
I found some of the detailed brochures interesting and very useful, but mostly I value the copies I’ve made of the odd map or tour that he obviously followed and the additions in his own hand noting the interior is worth closer inspection or a particular manufacturing detail.
I ran out of time at Ironbridge this time to pore over the archive, and as I depart for my Fellowship tomorrow (!!!), I look forward to the gems waiting for my discovery on my return reminding me I am just at the beginning. And am ever appreciative to my generous tutors and librarian for their help in making this record accessible and for the legacy Michael Stratton has left.
I have been thinking more specifically about the aims of my trip, having reflected on Michel Stratton’s experiences on his Fellowship in 1988 and as, ast last, I have some time to think as I travel across the Atlantic…
I am keeping my remit quite broad as I don’t know yet what I will find and think it best to keep an open mind.
Broadly, I am interested in the differences between the USA and UK in:
- terracotta production (including manufacture, design and application),
- conservation principals and methods
- and, perhaps most crucially, the uptake and attitudes to terracotta in new build.
I anticipate much of what I will come across may be attributed to cultural differences and hope to gather a more thorough understanding of the history and how terracotta developed across our two nations and also to understand regional differences as I think this still plays a part in US.
My grandest aim is to learn how it might be possible to reinvigorate terracotta production in the UK.