|This exhibition traces the development of the simple garden pot from ancient Egypt to the present day, a subject that has been largely ignored. Over 90 different types of pots encompassing a wide array of beautiful and functional shapes filled the Church Exhibition Gallery at the Botanic Garden of Smith College from October 15 through December 15, 2005. a true celebration of flowerpot-making as art.
"An ongoing inspiration", is how Connecticut potter Guy Wolff describes the exhibition. When curator Susan Tamulevich began research for the exhibition she was astonished to discover that design indices of historical flowerpot did not exist. The lack of documented information about early American flowerpots is partly due to how flower pots were regarded in the 17th and 18th century, as well as our own current attitudes about some garden containers. Most garden pots were cheap utilitarian objects, made by local craftspeople. Early American gardeners treated their clay pots much as we treat our garden pots today. When they break we throw them away or use the shards for drainage in a new planting. Pots that did survive were not greatly valued by historians, and most were consigned to the back closet or the basement of the local museum or historical society, if they even found their way there.
Fortunately, some traditional potters like Mr. Wolff and Jim Keeling of Whichford Pottery in Warwickshire England, are fascinated by the simple, elegant designs and horticultural history of antique garden pots. "It's difficult to believe these pots especially the American pots have been so long neglected," Wolff recently said. "They're beautiful sculptural objects. Each pot has clues that tell you where the potter came from, what generation American he was and where he was working."
The exhibition showcases a wide variety garden containers including Tuscan Terra cotta urns, reproductions of 17th to 19th century American garden pots, 18th century British ware from Whichford Pottery, and contemporary concrete containers made by Lunaform of Sullivan Maine. A special flower pot designed in 1995 by Guy Wolff for the centennial celebration of the Botanic Garden of Smith College was also a part of the display.