Barbara Hanley obituary | Ceramic

My wife, Barbara Hanley, who died of cancer at the age of 76, was a distinguished potter and a member of the Craft Potters Association. Under the name Barbara Lock, she exhibits her ceramics throughout the UK. She also taught pottery to young people with special needs and campaigned for the rights of descendants of Nazi persecution in Germany.

Born in Bushey, Hertfordshire, she was the daughter of Barbara Isralowicz, a Jewish refugee who fled Germany in 1938, and George Seymour, a teacher of the deaf. Her early years were spent in various parts of the UK before the family settled in North London, where she always felt most at home. She went to Willesden County High School.

Barbara Lock, featured in Ceramic Review magazine, 1978

Married young to Desmond Lock, an activist on the political left, and living in Bournemouth, she raised three sons while managing to complete a ceramics degree at Bournemouth College of Art (now part of Bournemouth University). She combined being a busy mother with developing her own pottery, and also branched out into teaching pottery to young adults with special needs, at the Strathcona Center in Wembley, after the family moved to London in 1982, and qualified as an art therapist.

She divorced and moved around 1990 to South Wales, where I met her and we became partners, marrying in 2002.

His pottery flourishes, with subtle variations in style and innovation. She had a preference for using low-fire, unglazed raku clay and subtle colors inspired by the landscapes and seascapes of Wales and France; later, her approach is more sculptural and she creates shapes reminiscent of birds.

A member of the Craft Potters Association, the leading ceramics organisation, she had her last exhibition at their London gallery in 2018. She was instrumental in founding the Makers’ Guild in Wales and was an active member of South Wales Potters. In recent years she has exhibited at Kooywood Gallery in Cardiff and Attic Gallery in Swansea.

In 2017, Barbara wrote a remarkable letter to the Guardian exposing Germany’s failure to award citizenship to all descendants of Nazi persecution, not just those with a Jewish father. His protest led to the founding of the Section 116 Exclusions Group, whose work under the direction of Félix and Isabelle Couchman ultimately led to change. Many new German citizens therefore owe Barbara a debt.

Barbara Hanley used subtle colors in her pottery inspired by the landscapes and seascapes of Wales and France
Barbara Hanley used subtle colors in her pottery inspired by the landscapes and seascapes of Wales and France

With strong republican, socialist and internationalist convictions, Barbara had a sharp intellect and a wide range of cultural interests. She also had empathy for others and an instinctive generosity, all enhanced by a keen sense of humor.

She is survived by me, her children, Michael, Alex and Ben, five grandchildren and her brother, Tony.

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