Walk of life:
Pottery and Chelsea Gardening
Biographical details:

Chris O’Donoghue – Potter Extraordinaire

Throughout his career, Chris has been able, and continues, to see detailed three dimensional objects, design them in his chosen medium, and then reproduce them accurately but always with a feeling of warmth and charm.

Born in Dorset in 1950, Chris attended Bournemouth Art College. First he had the good fortune to work at the Poole Pottery under Bert Baggaley and Guy Sydenham. In 1971, Chris moved to Cranbrook, Kent to work with his brother Bod. After a while he was poached to join the Iden Pottery and moved down to Rye in East Sussex. Rapidly his work became well known and admired. Other potters and potteries sought his services and Chris thought it only fair to set up his own workshop. He rented 2000 square feet from Winter’s Dairy of Rye, and relieved the freezing conditions with paraffin heaters and obligatory running around the benches to warm up in the mornings.

Amongst his best known work of 1978-80 was the “Cottages”. He touted his wares up and down the country and they sold well to individuals, one off stores and even to the mighty stores, like Harrods. Another line that was popular was “Pastoral Rye”, which Chris worked on with Tarquin Cole at Rye Pottery. Chris also produced a series of “Shops”, including a “Greengrocer’s”. Keep an eye out on eBay for these treasures do crop up once in a while.

As ever Chris had ambition. Instead of small cottages he started to make models for projects that appealed to him – a Fortnum and Mason jam pot in the form of a dovecote, that ran to several thousand pieces – reproductions of grand houses with miniature gardens, even one off commissions of your own house. Perhaps one day Ross Castle or Killaha Castle may find time on his very busy schedule.

Sadly business started to dry, so our pottery Potter became a Potter in the garden. As a full time gardener in several large country gardens, and with copious design and restoration work, Chris is not short of work, and he has even acquired the sobriquet “Capability Chris”!

Having changed direction, Chris immediately set his sights at the highest level – the Chelsea Flower Show! His first design was “Shinglesea” – a seaside garden with a railway carriage, reminiscent of those installed as holiday homes in the early 20th Century around Rye. He was delighted to be awarded a silver-gilt medal, no mean feat for his first foray into the world of garden design. Such was the impression he made, that the Royal Horticultural Society approached Chris to work with Spana, the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad. After a trip to Morocco, and even persuading the Royal Horticultural Society to allow an animal on the Garden, Chris won a Silver Medal for Spana and had the honour of meeting the Queen.

But three dimension design does not end there. Chris is also a distinguished modeller for narrow gauge railway layouts, being described as a “Master of micro layout building”. Finally Chris has also executed figurative sculptures in bronze resin.

In all that he does Chris sets his sights high, he trusts in his acutely trained eyes and hands and deserves a place in the O’Donoghue “Who’s Who”.

Specific research interests