Frances Priest: Influences of the East
Frances Priest: Influences of the East

Frances Priest: Influences of the East

22 June - 15 September, 2019

The Bowes Museum is delighted to showcase the most recent work of the Edinburgh based artist potter, Frances Priest.


The ceramicist is inspired by different cultures, places and periods in history and she creates intricate and colourful objects that celebrate her fascination for ornament and pattern.


She uses her interests as a platform to engage with new settings and environments and her works at the Museum will be shown nestled among historic Chinese and Japanese porcelain from our own collection, selected by curator Howard Coutts.


Chinese and Japanese porcelains are characterised by intense colours, some under the glaze, known as “underglaze blue”, some in rich overglaze enamel colours with red or green dominating, called “famille rose” or “famille verte” (pink or green families) by the French.


Using ‘The Grammar of Ornament’ by Owen Jones, a mid-19th century handbook of international and historic styles lavishly printed in colour chromolithography, as a stepping stone into exploration, Frances uses clay as a canvas on which she builds richly drawn and layered surfaces of inlaid line, glaze colour and enamel decals.


Howard Coutts, The Bowes Museum’s curator of ceramics, said: “This exhibition looks at the colour, line and pattern in ceramics both from and inspired by the East.  The remarkable vivid colours and pattern painted onto the white porcelain of the historic works provides and interesting comparison to Frances’ contemporary explorations of ornamental motifs, surface pattern and colour.”


Frances Priest, said: “I’m delighted to be showing my work at The Bowes Museum, which is renowned for having an outstanding ceramics collection.  My work will both complement and contrast with the items it’s placed alongside.


“For the exhibition I have created a new group of works that respond to examples of Clobber Ware.  This 18th century phenomenon saw imported Blue and White ceramics from Japan and China ‘clobbered’ in Europe with brightly coloured low fired enamels. The works respond to this unusual layering of pattern and colour.  They also develop my ongoing exploration of the Victorian pattern book ‘The Grammar of Ornament’, picking up on ornamental motifs from the Chinese section of the book.”


Frances Priest: Influences of the East opens on 22 June and will be on view until 15 September.




Notes to editors:


·         The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes.  Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in.  The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods. 

  • The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a Major Portfolio Museum receives support from Arts Council England.
  • Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.
  • The Bowes Museum has undergone major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation.

·         The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 03000 262626,

·         The Bowes Museum is a registered charity number 1079639.



Categories: News

The Bowes Museum grounds are open!

Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.