Object of the month: “Susan Foster – Weaver” sign

In our final celebration for Women’s History Month in March we installed a recent addition to the collection. We’re proud to display a beautiful local craftwork in our entryway. The beautifully illustrated ceramic sign measures 51x81cm and was a recognizable landmark for many of Kendal’s residents during its many years in service mounted on Windermere Road. This artefact celebrates the life and work of two talented female artists who trained and taught internationally before making Kendal their artistic base.

The sign was a creative exchange between Maggie Angus Berkowitz, a renowned ceramic artist, and her friend Susan Foster, an accomplished weaver who played a prominent role in Cumbria Craft Guild. Susan commissioned Maggie to produce a sign for her studio in exchange for one of her own textiles.

The piece is testament to the rich and innovative practices of both artists. Susan was known for her exacting craftsmanship, as well as the popular night classes she ran out of her studio, and her wide-ranging cultural influences garnered through research and travel to Canada and Alaska. Maggie’s work uses a complex palette of glazes and oxides influenced by her training in Italy. Her deft, elegant figurative style is illustrated in her mural at Elephant Yard, Stricklandgate in the town centre which celebrates the town’s twinning with Rinteln in Germany, and is well worth a visit. Maggie taught pottery at Milnthorpe secondary school, and in Tanzania at Tabora girl’s high school.

The piece is an insightful collaboration between two women artists working in Kendal in the 20th century. The detail of its design demonstrates an intimate understanding and respect for each other’s craft, celebrating details of pattern, texture, and vibrant colour. Visiting us soon? Don’t forget to have a look as you enter!

Susan Foster’s work is held in many significant collections including the Royal Family, Carlisle Cathedral and Kendal Parish Church. The public works of Maggie Angus Berkowitz include a swimming pool in Appleby and a hospital dining room in Leeds.

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