- Hardcover: 380 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (28 Sept. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300100167
- ISBN-13: 978-0300100167
- Product Dimensions: 19.5 x 3.5 x 25.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 449,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Last Sane Man: Michael Cardew: Modern Pots, Colonialism, and Counterculture (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art) (The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art) Hardcover – 28 Sep 2012
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'Harrod skewers the counter-cultural moment with a welcome acerbity as well as affection, concluding that Michael's prejudices and passions appear like a map in this new territory. Her biography is as passionate as its subject. It is wonderful.' --Edmund de Waal, Literary Review
'What a lovely book this is...Harrod is the most scrupulous of scholars...She has the eye of a journalist for glinting, piquant detail.' --Bevis Hillier, The Spectator
'Tanya Harrod, with an encyclopedic knowledge of craft, has spent a decade immersed in her subject's life, and her command is obvious. Quiet, gentle and elegantly written, The Last Sane Man nevertheless pulls no punches.' --Judith Flanders, Sunday Telegraph
About the Author
Tanya Harrod is an independent design historian, the author of the prizewining The Crafts in Britain in the 20th Century and the co-editor of the Journal of Modern Craft.
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Top Customer Reviews
Anyone, but especially a potter, who was touched by the Cardew flame, could be inspired, maddened, or even burnt out by his presence. He called himself a "mud and water man", but his personality was firey, at times eccentric, opinionated and contradictory. I was fortunate to have spent just enough time at Wenford Bridge in the summer of 1973 to be infected by his enthusiasm for honest, well-made functional pots.
However, Tanya Harrod's book is not written from a potter's point of view. The potmaking is always there, at Winchcombe, Vume, Abuja and Wenford, but it is Cardew's complex personality that takes centre stage. Her access to a massive trove of private letters has allowed her to spell out the difficulties he had in his relationships with other men, particularly Kofi, his great Ghanaian love, with his very tolerant wife Mariel, and with his children.
The contradictory elements of Cardew's life were resolved in his work. An uncompromising vision coupled with an instinctive sense of rightness resulted in majestic, heartfelt pots. They will survive when our virtual, conceptual culture is not even a memory. Which brings me to my one criticism of Tanya Harrod's book. There are not enough colour photographs, particularly of the later stoneware, while the black and white photos of the people, places and African pots that so inspired him are plentiful, but too small.
That said, this is a brilliant account of one of the great characters of the twentieth century. I read the book from cover to cover almost in one sitting. Un-put-downable.
Much of her task was facilitated by Cardew's prolific letter writing, especially to his wife Mariel and as their relationship was characterised by his honesty and her incredible patience and understanding, he did not hold back in his account of most aspects of his life. The result is a very intimate view of the man and at times, it is almost voyeuristic as we read of his troubled sexuality, his unstable and unequal relationships with his children and of the various men that featured in his life, the last also being the catalyst for his feelings of guilt and self-loathing that dogged him all his life.Read more ›
Tanya Harrod's detailed journey through his life and work is an epic sweep across the social, political, and art history of the 20th century. Cardew is particularly well know for his work in West Africa, in Ghana and Nigeria, both British colonies at that time. He set up three pottery workshops, over a period of twenty years and produced some of his most memorable work there. Harrod navigates this vast and complicated historical terrain with formidable political agility. She applies forensic critical scrutiny to the colonial context of working, personal and romantic relationships as well as to the wider social contexts.
We get to know Cardew as a scholar, a potter, a husband, a father, a lover, a friend, and as a teacher and mentor. We learn of his character through his own writings and those of many others, including interviews with people in West Africa who remember him. Harrod brings an admirably cool head combined with considerable compassion to the complicated tangle of both homosexual and heterosexual relationships, enabling a fully rounded picture of all concerned to emerge.
Cardew eschewed industrial processes, insisting on developing a pottery `from the ground up,' starting with making and firing the kiln bricks, digging up local clay and grinding rocks for glaze materials. Undaunted, Harrod deftly picks her way through the details of craft pottery - the firing temperatures, the nature and feel of the clay, the machinery and general grub and grit as well as the science and aesthetics of the business.
This is painstaking historical research combined with fluent, inspired storytelling. It's a glorious book, one that will live near you and will be read and reread, argued over and discussed. Buy it new - second hand copies will be rarer than hen's teeth!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Totally fascinating - I had no real knowledge about Michael Cardew before buying this book so it was a lovely surprise to read something so absorbingPublished 23 months ago by Caroline Tyler
I have no idea what this book is about but it's one my brother asked for and he's happy with it!Published on 1 Mar. 2014 by Carolyn Harris
This is a well researched and detailed book about a subject that is 'interesting'. Michael Cardew lived a life that radiated difference - a family that functioned differently to... Read morePublished on 27 Sept. 2013 by Paperback Reader
The level of research that must have been required to write a book like this is huge, the detail is fantastic - indeed almost too much in places - but the story of a man that is so... Read morePublished on 19 May 2013 by Mr. C. Hughes
Bought this for my husband and he loved it. He said it is well written and informative, and in addition very revealing to the character of Michael Cardew. Read morePublished on 7 Feb. 2013 by Julie