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Research Interest
The copper-plate engravers art; a history of image manipulation, modification and
make-do and mend.
Reasons and purposes:
I have a unique opportunity to conduct original research that analyses the imagerelated changes within the transferware process. To understand how this fits
historically within a broader context of other contemporary arts and processes as well
as to analyse how and why these changes occurred.
The existent works (academic and non-academic) I have studied relating to engraverbased printing are largely disparate and do not put into context each trade or industry
as a whole. As the processes are principally the same for all, I aim to compare and
contrast the purposes, techniques and image handling in this anterior period of mass
Research project:
I plan to study in detail the hand-engraved copper-plates used to create under-glaze
transfer-printed wares, 1756 1842 (inception to copyright law). Transferware
patterns were largely derived from source images and the chronology was; original
painting or print, copper-plate engraving and finally, ceramic product. The periodic,
visual differences and alterations in the distinct steps in the process between origin
and conclusion are what I plan to study. Were they done for political or social
reasons? Were they done solely for the proposed market? Were they done purely out
of simplification so that a pattern would work better in terms of fit and aesthetics on
a ware? Are these disparities caused by re-working tired plates due to wear or other
factors such as a change of a factorys circumstances? I aim to answer these
I will show how this type of image re-appropriation fits within a broader context of
industry and art during the same period. The journey of images through different
media that were influenced by trade, shifts in cultural horizons as well as greater
understanding of ones environment, both literal and metaphorical, all play a part.
This work will further the understanding not only within the pottery industry, but any
area that has its origins in copper-plate engraving. The making of broadsheet
newspapers, posters, books, textiles, wall papers and prints all would be good
examples of similar techniques being used to create modified or managed images.
Does the image manipulation and the language used and conveyed differ between
distinct and contrasting mediums?
Printing, in all its guises, was the start of repeatable mass production; how did this
affect the markets (socially and globally), use of images, cultural aspirations, learning
and education, prosperity and trade?

What is the context with other references? Spode Transfer Printed Ware, 1784
1833, Drakard & Holdway and The Dictionary of Blue & White Printed Pottery,
1780-1880, Coysh & Henrywood do not go into detail such as citing the reasons and
purposes behind image selection, use and change. In terms of iconography references,
Ivins (1969) looks at image syntax, symbolism and verisimilitude and Mason (2001)
looks at stratification of source material and geographical codices that influence
images. Similarly, Gretton (1980) references ballads and broadsides and alludes to the
growth, affluence and the literacy of a nation creating a demand for mass production.
My work compliments these, but expands upon ideas and unifies image manipulation
across many industries.
Training and preparation:
I have privileged access to a huge, largely un-tapped archive of copper-plates at the
former Spode factory and have eighteen years of full-time experience in the field. My
unique understanding as an antiques dealer and having an untraditional academic
route to this practice-based research will allow me to produce a work that is
unmatched in terms of depth and quality.
I have spent eight days in the Spode copper-plate archive laying groundwork and
beginning the analysis. I have consulted collectors, dealers, institutions and academics
around the world, assessing the resources and archival material available for study.