It all began with throwing pots

It all began with throwing pots


On Thursday, 9th March, Chris O’Donoghue, pottery expert, award winning garden designer and more recently,  author of detective novels,  began by telling his audience at Rye Museum that he hadn’t  had the exam grades on leaving school to qualify for a degree course in art at Bournemouth Art College.  The rest of the story, a riveting presentation billed as From Pottery to Potting Shed, was  one which would  inspire anyone feeling ‘left behind’ to set out ambitiously to  ‘get way ahead’. 

An early job throwing pots at Poole Pottery led in stages (e.g. making countless moulds of  many types) to Rye and to running a ceramic business creating beautiful/amusing/collectable models in clay of, for example,  outsized teapots with personality and ceramic thatched houses with  miniature gardens  (always with ‘authentic’ detail),  supplying them to Fortnum and Masons and outlets in Japan, the USA and elsewhere, alongside  acquiring a succession of eye-catching  motorbikes and cars as well as a cottage which he rebuilt (while running the business) and taking more art classes covering what he’d like to know how to do for his next ambitions  . . .  

Those ceramic houses with their  ‘authentic’ gardens played a part in his career switch in 2002 to the Chris O’Donoghue garden design and restoration business serving  the South East (The photo shows one — with pots — in Appledore).  It wasn’t long before he became a medal winner three years in succession at the RHS Chelsea Gardens Flower Show (two appear in the feature photo  and at left).  In the course of the story we also learned something about techniques of pottery production – moulds,  jigger jolley machines, clays, slips and glazes, sculpting, styles of decoration, the vagaries of taste among consumers, the joys of sailing and of owning unusual vehicles . . .


In his ‘spare time’ Chris has recently begun a series of detective novels.  Besides examples of his pottery he brought along copies of Blood on the Tide: An Inspector Sonny Russell mystery  which has gathered reviews  as ‘a cracking good read’. It is set on the south coast in the 1950’s and features the sea and boats, murder and the Nazis.  The second title, Blood on  the Shrine, has just come out too.  There will be  an official launch/signing at the Rye Bookshop on March 31st, Easter Saturday from 12 noon until about 3pm. 

This was certainly another memorable evening at Rye Museum!   Look out for details of the next talk on Thursday, 12th April  when  Cathy Walling, Curator of the Hastings Museum will present A History of Hastings in 66 Objects.   

First posted in East Street Posts, Featured, Literary and Artistic Rye, Past Talks, Talks Summaries on 12th March 2018
Last updated: 14th May 2018
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