Jung didn’t believe in pure coincidence without meaning, and Goethe certainly spoke truly when he pointed out how making any commitment opens the way for unforeseen and unforeseeable forces to come to our aid. Looking back over forty-five years of making pots, I can see that when we are ready for change, the smallest events conspire to open a path for us.
For the first twenty-five years of my life as a professional potter, I was guided by Bernard Leach’s A Potter's Book, and made pots under this influence. Using stoneware to make simple, unpretentious, and useful pots for the kitchen and the home, I sold them at prices “ordinary people” could afford. I was clear about my intentions and, in the early 1970s, the public was willing to support the dream of the self-sufficient potter and this return to an imagined and simple life.
One summer day, a young woman walked into my showroom carrying a tome filled with pictures of tiles, vases, and plates, and showed me page after page filled with strange birds and animals and a profusion of plants. In my memory the illustrations were brightly coloured, but today, checking my bookcase, I see that only the dust jacket is in colour. Memory plays odd tricks. The book was called The Designs of William De Morgan and it was a revelation of possibilities, undreamed of in the earthy school that had guided me till then. Light streamed into the dimly lit world of my convictions, and with it, in time, came myriad possibilities – of colour, of complex designs, of Middle Eastern influences, of lustre.