Crowan Pottery pin tray (7cm diam)

 

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Phil Oliver

5 June 2013

 

 

             May Davis

 

 


May Scott at 22 - A drawing by Bernard Leach

Born in 1914 into a publishing family in England, May Scott as a young woman was torn  between music and pottery.

 She reasoned that a potter could always enjoy music on the side, but that a musician could not spend an evening making pots.

So she chose pottery.

 

The quotes below are from her autobiography 'May'.

May attended Salford Art School, had some basic instruction in pottery from a Mrs Bell in Surrey and worked for a few months with Muriel Bell at her pottery in Malvern. In 1934 her parents set up a 'shed' for her in their garden which she called the Pigeon Hill Pottery.

"At an exhibition of craft work in Manchester, I saw the work of many potters, including Bernard Leach. I spoke to him and said I wanted to come to St Ives to learn more. He interviewed me behind his stall and I was accepted as a paying student. I was thrilled at the prospect."

 

An 8in Crowan Pottery bowl - decorated by May Davis
An 8in Crowan Pottery bowl - probably decorated by May Davis

May Scott was a student at the Leach Pottery for a year in 1936 and 1937.

"I met Harry Davis whom I was later to marry. Shaggy and long-limbed he seemed to be doing the work of three men. He had auburn hair and a big beard and wore a loose shirt and baggy corduroys and his use of swear words was something new to me. In fact I assumed that these words were Cornish words."

"Under Harry's kindly tuition my throwing improved rapidly; he was a very skilful thrower, something Bernard Leach never was."

"At the time of my arrival at the pottery Harry had just moved into a little cottage six miles from the pottery. Our friendship ripened as the idyllic summer months slipped by. One day greatly daring, for he was very shy, Harry asked me to go to the pictures with him."

After leaving the Leach Pottery early in 1937, she set up her own pottery in the ground floor of a little back street mews in Clareville Street, South Kensington, London, which she shared with her brother Laurence.

"Later, when I moved to London, a letter arrived from Harry almost every day, along with boxes of anemones."

"I do not know when we decided to get married; it was so obvious that I think that it was never mentioned until we discussed the where and the when."

In 1938, after their marriage, they sailed to the Gold Coast as Mr and Mrs Davis. May admits in her autobiography, though, that she always regretted giving up her own name.

The owner of this bottle lives at Crowan and obtained it from May herself.
Crowan Pottery iron glaze bottle, made and decorated by May Davis

In the early days at Crowan, May was fully involved with everything at the pottery and "loved throwing". But after her third and fourth children came along, she confined herself to doing the bulk of the glazing and decorating of the pots, the pottery correspondence and book-keeping, bringing up the children, and running the Davis household.

"Sometimes at the end of a day, I hardly knew how to drag myself upstairs to bed."

After Harry's death in 1986, May moved away from pottery, she found an outlet for her creative talents in paper-making, and wrote a book about it. She continued to enjoy her lifelong love of music and music-making - she was an accomplished violinist - and spearheaded the local women's movement.

She also wrote her autobiography - May.


Crowan pot prbably decorated by May

May died in New Zealand in the late morning of January 13th, 1995