These are two stunning finials by the ceramicist Gilbert Bayes which have found sanctuary in a small but lovely new museum in Somers Town.
Bayes designed these finials to be placed on top of poles in drying yards. The aim was to add an aesthetic pleasure to social housing in and around Somers Town. He also designed wonderful ceramic lunettes - still on display around the Sidney Street Estate in Somers Town - featuring scenes from fairy tales.
Scandalously, all the original 1930s Bayes finials have been taken from their posts and most are missing presumed stolen. In two or three spots, replacements have been put up - but lacking the sheen and quality of the original.
The two ceramic works above - one representing a tailor and the other a draper - were bought at auction in the United States on behalf of the People's Museum in Somers Town simply to enable the restitution of apparently looted art to the community for which it was created. The Camden New Journal told the story back in February -
Hats off to Stephen and Diana for bringing these wonderful Bayes works of art back home!
They are among the moving forces of the People's Museum on Phoenix Road in Somers Town, small and cosy and altogether sparkling.
The museum also has one of Bayes's sailing ship finials -
And still wrapped up and recently arrived from the cellar of the housing association which failed to protect so many of the Bayes originals is a wonderful ceramic carpenter's bag of tools - for St Joseph, who was of course a carpenter.
Among the photographs on display is one which shows some of Bayes's finials - in this case a few of four-and-twenty blackbirds - in position in a Somers Town drying area back in the day
And there are wonderful mementoes of the strong radical tradition in the area - it housed the Communist-aligned Unity Theatre from 1936 for almost forty years and earlier was the home of the anarchist Freedom Press.
Today was my first visit to this museum - I'll certainly be going again. Do ye likewise! They have regular talks and are devising a heritage walk around Somers Town, so lots to look forward to..
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