Andrew Raftery compares his “Autobiography of A Garden” to the medieval book of hours. I did some reading on the Book of Hours and its role in people’s lives. “Owners could write in specific dates important to them, notes on the months where things happened that they wished to remember, and even the images found within these books would be personalized to the owners- such as localized saints and local festivities”. Andrew Raftery is not a professional gardener. He is a print maker, collector of transfer ware and creator of ceramic plates. Raftery is the second speaker, in a series of talks sponsored by the Garden Conservancy. The Autobiography of a Garden is about the making of twelve earthenware transfer-printed plates.
“Each plate depicts a solitary, middle-aged man working in an ornamental garden, chronicling every month of year and his duties in the garden.The real subject is the garden as it grows and develops over time.” Andrew Raftery
Raftery owns 1500 pieces of English transfer ware made between 1810 and 1850. “We live with it. We eat off it, hang it on the walls, touch it all the time. I love it because it’s a print collection to me. The images on these plates are made from engravings and so I’ve always wanted to do a project that involved bringing my engraving to pottery. “
January: Reading seed catalogs in bed.
February: In my kitchen planting seeds.
March: Watering seeds in a cold frame on the porch my apt. in Providence,RI.
April: Digging out the beds, shape of plate refers to chickweed,
a common weed at this time of year.
May: Cultivating the lettuce bed (checkerboard of red and green of lettuce).
June: In my backyard training a passion vine.
July: In the sun room watering in fertilizer.
August: In the backyard deadheading dahlias.
September: Mowing in front of the house.
October: Bringing in chrysanthemums.
November: In the backyard digging dahlia tubers to store over the winter.
December: Out in the back of the house, contemplating the garden in the snow.
This project is Raftery’s personal exploration of making transfer ware. There are a number of videos that discuss in detail the process of creating these plates. If you are interested in ceramics, these videos explain: the derivation of the shapes of the plates, the approach to making the plates, the composition of the clay and the back stamps, whose designs relate to the garden activity on the front of the plates.
The Garden Conservancy has taken a chance; will gardeners be interested in going to a lecture where the subject matter is the garden, but not the main character.
Andrew Raftery: The Autobiography of a Garden
November 2, 2018 / 6 PM
Museum of Arts & Design, NYC