My Favourite Object

This week’s blog post is written by Clare Hall, a professional anthropologist and academic.

Think of the Corinum Museum and think of Romans: the name says it all really. But my favourite thing in the collection is one of the youngest objects on display. The Alfred Powell Bowl is an extremely large piece of blue and white glazed earthenware depicting scenes of Cirencester. It was made in the 1920s by a celebrated and influential member of the Arts & Craft Movement.

Alfred Powell Bowl, c1920's

Alfred Powell Bowl c.1920s

I have made some earthenware pots, coiling clay into shapes and spinning a wheel as the wet mud flies all over my clothes. This limited experience has given me a great appreciation for the extraordinary technical skill needed to make such a large vessel. And then decorate it, by careful hand, in a glowing shade of blue. And fire it again. The shape reminds me of an 18th century Georgian punch bowl, when convivial groups of friends would gather together to drink punch, smoke and gossip. It is a bowl that by design harks back to a romantic past. But positioned right at the exit, in the last display case, I like stepping out of the museum and into the town where the four scenes painted on the bowl still exist and are part of daily life. I love that unbroken thread of continuity between past and present.

I moved to Cirencester 18 months ago from East Anglia. I love to explore the town and to get lost in the surrounding countryside, finding architectural treasures. I became a friend of the museum in my first week as I consider a good museum can make a significant contribution to the quality of life.

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