I wrote to the staff responsible for the national treasures in this home and asked if the sheep was still there and if it might just possibly be marked Walton. I held my breath. Usually, it takes four rounds of persistent correspondence to get a reply, but I was in luck. A very nice lady promptly answered that the sheep was indeed in place and that her records note that it is indeed marked Walton. Of course, much correspondence ensued about getting a photograph. I was referred to a Higher Authority and we negotiated terms….for the record, I never pay for photographs. Again, every one could not have been nicer or more anxious to help. And then we hit a major stumbling block. A conservator popped up to say she has “serious reservations” about moving that figure off the mantel, for safety reasons. Aw, come on!! I am the last person to want to jeopardize a figure. But is this not akin to the tree falling in the forest and no one hears it? If nobody sees the sheep and its mark, does it exist….or at least does it exist in a meaningful way? Is it worth conserving? A conundrum to ponder. I have not given up hope. Perhaps a visit with my Nikon camera will secure a picture from across the room. I am very ambivalent about museums and institutions that hold pottery. Some of them are extraordinarily generous about sharing, but the truth is that most of the stuff languishes in dark cupboards. At the same time, when I see all the botched restoration on the market, I am pleased these things are held safe. But if nobody learns to love them, does it matter that they are safe? Above all, I am convinced that there is more than enough in museums. So please DON’T leave your collection to your local museum!
You might enjoy this ram, also made by John Walton.
Below is the only standing black sheep I have handled. This one is in the Brighton Museum, one of my favorite collections, a dream for the collector to visit.