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Winchcombe pottery ace dies

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 21, 2012

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One of the world's leading studio potters has died after a career in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, spanning 76 years.

Ray Finch died on Wednesday at the age of 97, having first worked at Winchcombe Pottery in 1936. Although he handed the Broadway Road business over to his son Mike in 1979, he continued to work there and was making pottery until earlier this year.

In 1980, he was made an MBE for services to the arts and, in 1999, received a lifetime achievement award from the first international potters festival in Aberystwyth.

Ron Wheeler, who wrote a book about Mr Finch in 1998, said: "The world of studio pottery has lost one of its leading figures and practitioners. He was an outstanding artist and potter who also trained and influenced a large number of students from Britain and overseas."

Mr Wheeler said Mr Finch had been "a man of quiet dignity, modest with strong values". He seemed surprised that his work was collected by so many admirers. He said: "I've not really ever considered myself to be famous. We've always tended to use my pots at home but I don't keep many of them, just a few which I like."

Over seven decades, he worked in various forms, from slipware to the more robust stoneware, crafting water jugs, teapots and bowls for everyday use. His workshops were much sought after and many top potters, from home and abroad, expressed their gratitude to him for his guidance. Mr Finch kept one of the few remaining country potteries going against all the economic odds and its high quality products still attract a large number of customers from the UK and places such as Scandinavia, America and New Zealand.

Mr Finch's own work is represented in the collections of dozens of museums in Britain and overseas. He is survived by Mike, his daughter Marianne and four other sons – Anthony, Peter, Joe and Paul, as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren.

The funeral will be on Thursday at noon, at St Nicholas Roman Catholic Church in Winchcombe.

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