Derek Andrews obituary | Ceramic

My brother, Derek Andrews, who died aged 89, was a much loved potter and painter living in Cambridgeshire, helped by his wife, Margot, also an artist, with whom he ran a successful pottery. Derek had trained, for a period of six months in 1958, with the eminent artist Bernard Leach at his pottery in St Ives, Cornwall; he also became a talented landscape painter.

Diagnosed with cancer last year, Derek chose not to undergo chemotherapy and, at the age of 88, instead turned to a new discipline: metal sculpting. He tapped into a sense of well-being which culminated in a successful exhibition of his work last winter at the Old Fire Engine House in Ely.

Born in Croydon, Surrey (now the London Borough of Croydon), Derek was the son of Fanny (née Maybourn), who had worked for a Harley Street doctor, and Arthur Andrews, a railway signaller. He was educated at Archbishop Tenison’s School, Croydon, and on leaving at 16 went to work in the local council office. A period of national service in the army followed, during which Derek realized that consulting work was not for him. Much to our parents’ disapproval, he said he wanted to be a potter. (“It’s not work, it’s a hobby,” Arthur said.)

Derek Andrews in his studio with Jive, his latest creation

Undaunted, Derek won a place in 1952 at Bretton Hall teacher training college in Yorkshire, where he met Margot, whose surname coincidentally was also Andrews, a talented painter trained at the Slade School of London art.

In 1955 they married and for the next 20 years both taught at schools and colleges in Suffolk and Fen country. Derek was then invited to teach ceramics part-time at Bretton Hall, which gave him the opportunity to complete a National Design Diploma at Leeds College of Art, and experience working with plaster molds and slip casting.

In 1974, Derek and Margot felt the need to change. They wanted to give up teaching to run their own pottery and started looking at a number of potential buildings in the Fen area.

Eventually they found a ramshackle coal store in a village near Ely which over the next 20 years became not only their home but also the successful Prickwillow pottery. There they produced a regular line of products for sale, including mugs, jugs, dolls, house plates and the hugely popular ‘Jack Spratt’ gravy boat. They retired in 1995 to live in Cambridge and more recently in Ely.

Derek loved music and the arts, and was blessed with relentless creativity. He was also a man of kindness and patience. Having enjoyed the success of Ely’s exhibition, he requested neither a funeral nor a memorial, stating, “This exhibition of my work is my final gesture in a full life, thus creating my own memorial occasion.”

Derek is survived by Margot, me, and his nephews, Jeremy and Dan, and his niece, Nicky.

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