Mary Wondrausch, a colourful and irreplaceable character who potted, painted, wrote, gardened and cooked, has died at the age of 93. Mary moved to Brickfields, Compton in 1955 which she referred to as ‘the somewhat still centre of my wayward life’. She is world renowned for her slipware, held in private collections and the V and A Museum. At the OBE ceremony in 2000 when she was recognised for services to the arts a paper-mâché hat based on one of her own slipware plates was worn.
Mary trained at West Surrey College of Art and Design (now UCA) as a part time ‘West Street Potter’ when the classes had been moved to a Stable and Hay Loft in West Street. The conditions were precarious. The workshop was accessed by an open wooden stair with rope as handrail directly above the top loading electric kiln. Mary set up her own pottery in Godalming in 1974 moving to the converted stables at Brickfields where, surrounded by her own eclectic and wondrous collections of pots, dolls, kitchen ware , textiles and books, she continued to make. Her support for the renovation of Farnham Pottery as a creative space and links to WSP led to her donation of equipment when she returned to painting in 2015.
West Street Potters should be proud to claim Mary as one of their Alumni.
An exhibition of her paintings runs from Jan 8th to Feb 19th at the Watts Gallery, Compton. Copies of her book, which gives a flavour of Brickfields, is still on sale.