Tributes paid to a ceramic artist and actor who achieved worldwide fame

Peter Ilsley
Peter Ilsley

A ceramic artist who had his creations shown all around the world has died after a short illness.

Peter Ilsley, of Whilton Locks near Daventry, died on Monday, August 25 at the age of 81.

Coventry-born Peter became a full-time potter in the late 1960s, when he established the Draycote Pottery near Rugby, making a wide range of domestic and artistic pottery.

He moved to the bottom lock at Whilton Locks in 1986 and soon became a leading figure in the community as founder chairman of the Whilton and Buckby Locks Association. He was also chairman of the Midland Potters Association.

Friend and neighbour Tom Price said: “He was a proud follower of the arts and crafts movement, inspired by John Ruskin and William Morris. He specialised in hand-thrown vases and bowls in earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. In the 1990s he began experimenting with crystalline glazes, a long-lost technique which originated in ancient China.

“After hundreds of experiments he established a ground-breaking series of spectacular glazes.

“His book, ‘Macro-Crystalline Glazes: The Challenge of Crystals’, soon become the definitive reference for crystalline potters all over the world”

The book was published in 1999 and led to him being in demand for exhibitions, lectures and workshops in America, Canada, Australia and throughout Europe.

Mr Price added: “In recent years Peter, a charismatic and convivial character who enjoyed a pint at the nearby Norton village pub, spent the winters in southern Spain, where he continued to throw and fire pots to bring in his car when he drove back to Whilton Locks.”

Peter also worked as an actor and had minor roles in a number of TV series including Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, Doctor Who, Basil Brush and Z-Cars.

He leaves behind two sons, Jason and Mark. The latter is also a potter and lives and works on a narrowboat on the Grand Union Canal.

Peter’s funeral will be held at noon on Monday at Rainsbrook Crematorium in Rugby. This will be followed by reception at the Fox and Hounds in Great Brington.