The collector: Richard Legge, Photographer, Thaxted, Essex, UK.
The collection: West German Pottery.
The story behind the collection...
I have had the collecting gene for as long as I can remember, no matter what I bought as a child it nearly always ended in a collection! As the youngest sibling I had the 'box' room which was just about big enough for a single bed and a wardrobe. I persuaded my dad to put shelves, hooks and drawers wherever possible to display my wares. Keyrings, stamps, coins, smurfs, marbles, badges, matchbox toys were all bought in large numbers.
From quite a young age I started to take notice of and like mid-century design, furniture, ceramics etc. My uncle is an artist and potter and taught art at a school in Cornwall, he introduced me to ceramics, art and also photography which I then decided to study and is now my profession.
Whilst still living with my parents in North Somerset I came across a fantastic little shop in a Weston-Super-Mare back street. It was crammed full with furniture and collectables from the 50's, 60's and 70's The owner and his partner (who's names I can no longer remember but would love to find out where they went) collected West German ceramics and lived in the flat upstairs which was bursting with pots that didn't make it for sale in the shop. I instantly fell in love with the color and shapes of this particular pottery and from here the collection seed was sewn. I didn't actually buy my first vase from him but found it in a charity shop in Bristol having recognized its distinctive look in the window. I returned to his shop for a few years and purchased a good deal of my early pieces from him.
I have been collecting them for over 15 years and have about 270 pieces at the last count. I thought this was a fairly large collection until I discovered lots of great WGP collectors via Twitter who make my collection look a little miserly, there is always room for more! I collect other things so the budget set aside for my 'obsessions' has to be divided up!
Again due to my uncle, my initial love was for studio ceramics in particular Troika, however this proved far too expensive for my wallet and WGP was initially perfect for my keen eye for a bargain. You could buy it at car boot sales and charity shops for quite literally pence, but like most things it's rise in popularity having now featured on various tv antique shows has inflated the prices and looks set to continue as their are collectors from as far afield as Australia and America.
I have groups of them around the house which I rotate every so often with the remainder packed away in the loft. I like to display them by colour (as opposed to a certain manufacturer of which there are many).
As with any collection, in the early days I would buy anything that was marked West Germany regardless of condition or if I liked it. As the collection grows you get a little more selective and I am now very fussy about condition and pay more attention to shape, glaze and manufacturer.
Further information on West German Pottery
Images © Richard Legge and used with his kind permission.