Parodies in Pottery

By Louise Irvine

The bizarre dreams of the eccentric Martin Brothers continue to haunt Andrew Hull in Stoke-on-Trent. The fantasies of the Victorian artist-potters have inspired the master modeler throughout his career and he has kept their legacy alive with his humorous sculptures of birds and other strange creatures that go bump in the night. See his work in our new Contemporary gallery at WMODA when the museum reopens.

Andrew studied the work of the Martin Brothers for his degree course at art school and became fascinated by their bird jars which mocked politicians and other public figures in the late 19th century. Robert Wallace Martin’s wilder fantasies included imps, hobgoblins, dragons and strange hybrid beasts which evoke Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland creatures or the boojums and snarks from Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense. It was once said that Lear, Carroll and Martin dreamed similar dreams, only Martin dreamt them in clay and baptized them with flame.

Following in the Martin Brothers’ footsteps, Andrew has designed bird jars, dragons and other fantasy creatures. His first job was at Holland Studio Craft where he modeled wildlife in resin before focusing on their Fables and Enchantica collections. For eight years, he traveled across Britain and America signing his pieces and appearing on TV shopping channels.

When Holland Studio Craft closed, Andrew moved to Cobridge Stoneware which was founded by Moorcroft owner, Hugh Edwards, to revive the Victorian stoneware tradition. Andrew designed some vases for the Moorcroft collection, including the Jungle Book, but he mainly specialized in Martin style birds. Over a period of six years, he built up a collection of 30 different characters all with their own stories. Andrew also makes vases and plaques which he incises with extraordinary birds and fish and there are several trial vase designs in the WMODA collection.

When the Cobridge studio closed in 2005, Andrew went into partnership with the Burslem Pottery before establishing his own business, the Andrew Hull Pottery. Each piece is hand-made by Andrew down to the last talon. He imagines each character with their story and draws them in detail. From the original sculpture, he makes a set of molds which are used to cast small editions in liquid stoneware clay. Each piece is then assembled and hand-painted,  ready for Andrew’s avid collectors.

Thanks to his travels, Andrew has an international following. Many WMODA visitors met him at the International Ceramics and Glass Fair in 2016 where he held a memorable masterclass and talked about his process. He was able to study his Martin Brothers heroes close-up in the museum’s impressive collection and he continues to come up with amazing ideas for the Andrew Hull Pottery. Andrew exhibits his work at galleries and museums in the UK and the USA, including the new Hollywood WMODA.

Read more about Martin Ware Birds A Bird in the Hand – WMODA | Wiener Museum

Read more about the Martin Brothers Creepy Creatures – WMODA | Wiener Museum

Read about Martin Brothers Dragons Here Be Dragons – WMODA | Wiener Museum

Read about the contemporary ceramic artists at WMODA Strange Clay – WMODA | Wiener Museum

See more of Andrew Hull’s work Andrew Hull - Freelance Artist, Designer and Sculptor - caricatured birds and animals