The History Of Portmeirion Birds Of Britain
I have been fascinated by the Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales, since 1973 upon first entering through the archway set in the mountains of North Wales. I knew that the village was created by architect Clough Williams-Ellis as his bit of paradise in a harsh world and also as the setting for the famous 1960s cult television series, ‘The Prisoner’ but , it was only years later that I discovered the Portmeirion pottery created by Williams-Ellis’s eldest daughter, Susan Williams-Ellis, and her husband Euan Cooper-Willis.
My future mother-in-law was way ahead of me. The Welsh dresser in her bungalow in Wales was, stacked with Portmeirion dinnerware depicting ‘The Birds Of Britain.’ I bought a tea caddy with an illustration of the nightingale many years ago and have treasured it but recently I have had the good fortune to receive 4 mugs, a casserole dish and a teapot from my mother-in-law in her attempt to declutter. I get pleasure seeing them displayed in the kitchen and they are sturdy enough to be used everyday. They are dishwasher safe and can be used in the microwave.
My daughter and son have started to collect various pieces of Portmeirion Pottery. They have grown up appreciating the exquisite illustrations on the Birds Of Britain china in our home and at their Grandmother’s house in Wolverhampton and bungalow in Wales., My son keeps hinting that he would like the set of 4 large Birds Of Britain mugs (if we are not using them) but we feel like holding on to them at the moment.
The picture of the bullfinch teapot is one of my own photographs taken in the backgarden of my bungalow in Wales, about 40 miles from our house – appropriate, I think.
Who was Edward Donovan?
The author and illustrator of ‘The Natural History of British Birds’
Edward Donovan was an author/illustrator and amateur zoologist, born in Cork, Ireland, who lived between the years 1768 and 1837. Donovan collected natural history specimens from auctions of items collected from voyages of exploration and displayed them in the London Museum and the Institute of Natural History, which he operated. He used these specimens as his models for his illustrations and took control of the whole process of the illustration, the drawing, etching, engraving and hand colouring. The result was vibrant engravings that looked almost like watercolour paintings. Susan Williams-Ellis happened upon his book, ‘Natural History Of British Birds (1792-97)’ and’The Complete Morris’s British Birds (1891),’ at an antiquarian bookshop and was inspired to reproduce these wonderful drawings for her new series of Portmeirion earthenware which appeared in 1978.
The Natural History of British Birds by E. DonovanBUY NOW
Susan Williams-Ellis was inspired by Edward Donovan’s work, published in five volumes, when she discovered it at an antiquarian bookshop. It must have been one of those ‘wow’ moments for her.