Emma Bridgewater - passionate about pottery
PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 June 2014
Emma Bridgewater has put her passion about pottery onto paper. She tells Cheshire Life about her book ahead of her appearance at the Buxton Festival
The story behind the eponymous pottery and kitchenalia business launched by Emma Bridgewater in 1985 has been well documented: Emma decided to find the perfect tea set for her mother, couldn’t and so decided to make one herself. Now her company is one of the largest pottery manufacturers in the UK, employing over 200 people at a factory in Stoke.
There can’t be many Cheshire kitchens without at least one piece of Emma Bridgewater pottery. Her so very British approach – gentle, wry humour and unfussy, easy on the eye designs - have an appeal that transcends age, income and even style preferences.
I have a theory that Emma Bridgwater designs tap into a kind of national consciousness: put a mug of tea in my hand and pass me a slice of Victoria sandwich from that gorgeous cake stand and it’s hard to not to believe that all’s right with the world and will remain so.
Chatting to Emma is an uplifting experience too. Open, forthright and wholly accepting of her success in a wonderfully non-entitled way, you can appreciate that she has worked hard and made the sacrifices of every working woman, but has no desire to focus on them, instead she simply enjoys the fruits of her labour and appreciates her life.
The book – Toast & Marmalade and Other Stories – is, in short, Emma’s answers to every question she’s been asked about her life, her inspiration and her exasperations; her ‘why I am what I am and my pottery is the way that it is’, as it were.
The book is a delightful pot pourri of memories, higgledy-piggledy poured onto the page, interspersed with life-affirming recipes and lots of glorious photos. She spills the beans on everything from her love of crispy bacon to her passion for British pottery to establishing the perfect dish in which to serve risotto the book delivers the the story behind the brand in the most wonderful way.
Emma explained:‘I wanted a book people could dip in and out of, where you could read a piece and then be drawn to look at the photos, or spot a picture and want to read and learn why it’s there and what it’s all about.
‘It was an effort, but the nicest possible kind of effort. It was a very pleasurable experience and once I’d started, the memories flowed quite easily, one acting as a trigger for another.
‘I do feel it’s important that you frame your memories exactly as you remember them. There’s no point asking other people what they remember of certain events, as even if they recall them it will be wholly from their own perspective. Of course my memories of days are coloured by my own perceptions of what was happening, my own emotions and my own focus on what was important at the time.
‘My great friend, the actor Ken Cranham (about whom Emma talks of in the book) was so thrilled when he read it. He used to mix tapes for me and I loved that, but he had no idea how happy the tapes had made me, so my talking about it now brings back a part of his own life he’d forgotten.’
You can meet Emma Bridgewater and hear her talking about her book at The Buxton Literary Festival, on July 24th, and Emma is clearly looking forward to the event: ‘I’m really excited to be going. My husband has done a couple of similar events and has always had a wonderful time. A literary festival is one of those really ‘beckoning’ treats and gives me the perfect excuse to visit such a lovely town.’
Emma and her husband, Matthew Rice, have worked together from the start, with Emma running the business herself for nine years, then swapping with Matthew in 2008, allowing herself to admit that she simply couldn’t do everything.
‘We talk constantly about designs,’ she says. ‘It’s a hiccoughy but constant part of our life, and not just at work. He’ll be working in the greenhouse, and I’ll be reading to him; designs come out of our life, our real life. I can’t imagine ever running out of ideas. I’ll always think of something!’
Toast & Marmalade and Other Stories, is published by Saltyward Books and costs £25
Book tickets to see Emma this month at The Buxton Festival on www.buxtonfestival.co.u