Tile Art, Tinsmiths

Our Tile exhibition opens in a couple of weeks, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the use of tiles, the ways that they are produced and used. Last month’s visit to Jackfield Tile Museum at Ironbridge really helped. The museum is housed in the original offices of Craven Dunnill est. 1872 with the adjacent factory open to the public on specified days.

Craven Dunnill at Jackfield, tile press

Jackfield Tile Museum & early tile press

Press technology developed in the nineteenth century remains the industry standard; the  presses (now hydraulic) ram clay powder into plaster moulds to produce flat or textured tiles. Despite the use of hydraulic presses, the production line is still very labour intensive – perhaps not in comparison to our “potter’s tiles” in the exhibition – but in terms of modern factory production, this is very “hands on”.

making encaustic tiles at Jackfield

Rammed, textured tiles for slip infill – aka encaustic

The museum area is fascinating – my favorite room being the light, bright Design Room which now houses a snap-shot of art history through tiles 1840 to 1960 and the most fabulously tiled employees “loos”. As most people know the heyday for decorative tiles in this country was undoubtedly the Victorian era; a time when anything that could be decorated, would be.

The Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast

At the Tile Museum I was particularly struck by a reconstruction of a Victorian bar – where tiles were made that formed an arc both horizontally and vertically and had decorative textured surfaces – just think of the engineering involved and the confidence that sales would justify the set-up costs. Perhaps this is easier to imagine when one realises that this small area of Jackfield (home to the largest encaustic tile factory in the world in the 1870s, Maws & Co.) produced more tiles than anywhere else, the factories even had their own railway lines and exported worldwide.

The Trade Showroom and loos at Jackfield

The Trade Showroom & Employees Facilities at Jackfield

But what of contemporary tile use today? With architectural projects spending millions on polished concrete for the outside of their buildings, is their anyone considering extensive use of tiles as an alternative? Well, a quick google search reveals lots of ceramic cladding, a few plain glazed flat tiles covering large areas but oh,  for the colour, pattern and texture that there could be……architects, designers awake….. if anyone has some invigorating examples of architectural tiles, please send them in to us. In the meantime do come and see Tile Art at Tinsmiths from 16th March and on-line at www.tinsmiths.co.uk from 23rd.

Floor Tile by Andrew & Claire Mc Garva

Floor Tile by Andrew & Claire Mc Garva

Andrew Davidson at Tinsmiths

We’ve been fans of illustrator Andrew Davidson for quite a time now and so when he said yes to an exhibition here in September next year, we were cock-a-hoop. Here are some examples of woodcuts, wood engravings and textiles he has created. Such a feel for wildlife, movement and line is really impressive. Andrew has been working with Stephen Lewis at Lewis and Wood for a couple of years now. Stephen’s company is especially good at working with artists and designers to successfully interpret their work into textiles, working on colourways and pattern repeats to make some wonderful linen and linen union fabrics that are really lovely to have in the home. For this exhibition we will be taking that interpretation further by presenting Andrew’s textiles as curtains, armchairs and cushions in our showroom. Andrew’s framed works will be housed in the original Tinsmiths building and the exhibition will coincide with H.art – Herefordshire Arts Week (14-22nd Sept 2013) so there will be over 100 open studios to visit too – a really good time to take a break in Herefordshire next year. If you’d like an invitation, just e-mail us here and we will remind you nearer the time.

prints and textiles by Andrew Davidson

Show opens on 14th September and runs until 12th October 2013

Herefordshire Arts Week 8th – 16th September

Guides to this year’s Arts Week have just arrived – a very good reason to stop work for a cup of coffee and a browse through 40 colour pages of art from around Herefordshire. You can pick up your guide from Tinsmiths – libraries or Tourist Offices around the county. Well worth planning a route – or rather several day routes as the spread has never been so good.

Herefordshire artists are getting ready for this, the eleventh annual arts week, now well and truly established in the county’s calendar. Over a hundred venues open for visitors during the eight day event – the majority being open studios. Herefordshire Museum and Art Gallery host an open exhibition, whilst an exhibition for new artists “Herefordshire Young Open 2012” is staged at the Courtyard Arts Centre. At the back of the h.ARt guide you’ll see a list of demonstrations and workshops for visitors who would like to have a go themselves.

Of course, the participants want to sell their work. But the arts week isn’t only about selling; it is a chance for the artists to stop and think about where they go next, creatively. Putting together your own display is really good for focusing the mind and talking to visitors about what you do and why is also a very good process that helps the artists to take stock. You may or may not be in the market for a large imposing oil painting but the artists appreciate your interest and hope that you will spread the word – h.Art really isn’t to be missed.

This year, Tinsmiths is hosting an exhibition by potter, Stuart Houghton. You may remember that this is Stuart’s second (or even third) career and that he began it here in 2008. This exhibition “Potter’s Progress” brings us up to date with Stuart’s latest work and the exhibition will continue until 6th October. Come and see his progress here at Tinsmiths and visit his nearby pottery, which is open during h.ARt.

Kate Farley – Plots to Plates

Plot to Plate designs by Kate Farley

Printmaker and Textile Designer, Kate Farley, who will be showing at Tinsmiths next Summer, popped in to the shop recently to whet our appetite.  She brought with some of her latest printed books and bags all based growing and using food from the “plot”.  Kate, who lectures in printed textiles  at Birmingham University, will be working on designs for the exhibition which will include limited edition prints as well as textile designs.

At first glance her prints appear to use colour and forms in a fairly abstract manner, but on closer inspection imagery often draws on horticulture in an oblique way and has a charm of the familiar. We are really looking forward to working with her cloth in the showroom for curtains and cushions. If you would like to receive an invitation for this June exhibition or any in our annual programme, just e-mail us with your postal address.

Hope End

For our ‘St judes at Tinsmiths’ exhibition, Ed Kluz has produced this enigmatic collage ‘Hope End’. Ed’s work is often related to architecture & of late Ed has become fascinated with lost houses & their stories. ‘Hope End’, the site of which is a couple of miles outside of Ledbury has a particularly interesting & romantic history.

John Claudius Loudon would appear to be the mind behind the marvel, a polymath whose interests included botany and whose work included designs for cemeteries and gardens. Loudon completed his remodeling of the Old Queen Ann house between in 1815.

In 1809 the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning moved to Hope End with her family. It is often said this residence was what inspired so many of her works, including the wonderful ‘Aurora Leigh’

‘Green the land is where my daily steps

In jocund childhood played,

Dimpled close with hill and valley,

Dappled very close with shade’

-An extract from ‘The Last Bower’

Published in 1844



The Loudon version of the main house was mostly demolished in 1873 and a new house was built on a different part of the estate. It would seem there have been as many as 5 homes built on the site all called Hope End, over the years.  Most recently Hope End House has been  popular as a smart bed and breakfast.


St. Jude’s at Tinsmiths – 31st March to 28th April

With the exhibition about to open and prints EVERYWHERE now might be the time to give a window in to the forthcoming exhibition. Angie Lewin has sent large silk screenprints, lithographs, lino-cuts and exquisite small wood engravings. Two of these will have their first showing at Tinsmiths. Angie will be here for the evening opening on Friday 30th.

Lichen and Thrift by Angie Lewin

Mark Hearld has had an extremely busy time in the last two years with a series of commissions for publishers including “A First Book of Nature” for Walker Books out later this year. Nevertheless, Mark has provided us with a fabulous new lithograph and a set of four lino-cuts for the exhibition.

We welcome Christopher Brown to the line-up. Christopher, who is new to Tinsmiths, is an accomplished printer who specialises in lino-cuts. He will be signing copies of his recently published “Alphabet of London” at the exhibition opening. The book displays his humour, his interest in architecture and characters in British history. Limited edition prints from the alphabet will have their first outing at this show.

Having met the model for one of Emily Sutton‘s recent lino-cuts, we are delighted to introduce Circus Dog, one of three circus animals, Elephant and Bear being his companions. Emily is also alphabetically-inspired with her own A-Z emerging as large lithographs – here is “C” for Crockery

When Ed Kluz visited Tinsmiths in December, he researched and visited the estate at Stoke Edith, thinking that he might use this “lost” country house as inspiration in a work for the exhibition. A large print of Ed’s interpretation of the “Stoke Edith” tapestry (now in the V & A) resulted AND Ed worked on to investigate the origins of Hope End, an extraordinary house (now mainly demolished) near Ledbury and we eagerly await the results later this week.

The exhibition is only a few days away now and it will run for four weeks, including the Easter break, so do come along and see the prints and the in the flesh. However, if you can’t call in, we will be putting the unframed prints on our site by 5th April. Printed textiles by each St. Jude’s artist will form a backdrop to the exhibition and be available by the metre, covering chairs, as curtains, cushions and bags. Please note: our opening hours are as usual over Easter, 10-5pm Tuesday to Saturday.