Friday, April 2, 2010

ffrench Family Calendar

One of my few countervailing joys to monthly bill-paying is the monthly page-turn of my Dolphin Studio hand silk-screened calendar. The annual production of this glorious work, is a group effort by three generations of ffrench Family artists.
Family patriarch, John ffrench, died in January at age 81.

I’ve read a number of obituaries and bios, but I like most what was written by his daughter Crispina, who is a well-know textile artist. She posted this on the Etsy site set up to sell the small paintings John was making during his illness, right before he died.

Crispina writes:
John ffrench is actually my dad. 

He is 81 and has no idea how to use a computer.
He does, on the other-hand know how to make really cool things. 

John C. ffrench is Irish. Grew up in a castle in Co. Galway. He went to art school in Dublin, Ireland and Florence, Italy.

Trained as a potter, spent time in Cuba, Italy, Iceland, France, Switzerland, Peru, Haiti, Australia, a few years in India working for the government teaching potters to use glaze (where he admittedly learned more than he taught).

Since 1983 John ffrench and his lovely wife, Primm, (my beloved mom). Have spent their summers in Nogra, near Kinvara in County Galway Ireland and the rest of the year in Stockbridge, MA where I grew up. As a matter of fact they live in the same house where I, and my two sisters, grew up.

Mainly John is highly respected in Ireland where he has ceramics in the National Gallery in Dublin. In 2008 there was an hour long retrospective television program all about John ffrench and his impact on the changes, namely, introduction of color and free form, to Irish ceramics - That summer The National Crafts Council of Ireland in Kilkenny had a summer long retrospective show of all my dad's work from his college career up to present time.

As a kid, my dad was the ceramics teacher at the high school I attended. 

So, right now, I, my husband, Chris, and our kids are staying in my childhood home while the cancer spreads through John's body and we work to keep him engaged and interested. So far our work has not been difficult - he is easily entertained with art supplies and company. In this shop you will find Aceo cards he has been working on. If time allows I will post some of his ceramics too. 

When you convo John, I will get the messages and pass them on. He loves people and will surely love to hear feedback or your stories.

I hope you enjoy his work as I have thoroughly enjoyed his company for my adult life - he is a treasure and knows how to make those too!

February 22, 2010
: so sad to say that my Dad, John ffrench, passed away one month ago today. It brought him great pleasure to know that each piece of his I posted here was sold in short order. I miss him.

I feel lucky to have met John a number of years ago, when a friend took me to visit The Dolphin Studio in Stockbridge, MA.

Like everyone else who has met him, I was charmed by his Irish accent, and his good nature in telling stories and showing his work. You cannot help but be enchanted by the colors, patterns and images throughout the studio. And he was totally unfazed by the two six-year-olds with us, who "enthusiastically explored" his ceramics-filled studio.

There are more calendar pages to view on the blog Return to Bohemia. You can see more ceramics online at the Kenny Gallery.

To be contacted when next year’s calendar is ready, go here. The calendars sell out, so order when you get the email.

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