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John ffrench

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John ffrench

1928-2010 STOCKBRIDGE John ffrench, 81, died of cancer at home in Stockbridge surrounded by family on Friday, Jan. 22, 2010.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Oct. 5, 1928, to Jack ffrench and Sofia Brambilla ffrench, John grew up in his ancestral home, Castle ffrench in Co. Galway Ireland.

He studied in Dublin and Florence Italy where he kept a studio for several years exhibiting and selling his ceramics. When he returned to Ireland he became a partner in The Ring Ceramic Studio.

In 1957 he went to India to teach and work as a potter in Calcutta. He also traveled widely to collect folk art for the Design Center of West Bengal for the three years he spent in India.

His ceramic work was influenced by his love of color, design and pattern with which he was surrounded in Italy and India as well as many other travel destinations.

John was hired to establish Arklow Studio Pottery by the Irish government to initiative improved design in Irish industry. He was the leading pioneer of contemporary Irish ceramics and honored by Eircom with an hour-long television broadcast documentary on his life in 2008.

In 1969 John and his family moved to Stockbridge, where he and his wife founded The Dolphin Studio and taught Art at Monument Mountain Regional HS until 1992. The Dolphin Studio is known for hand screened calendars designed and printed by the ffrench family - a tradition that will continue.

Since his retirement from teaching, John ffrench divided his time between Stockbridge and Nogra, near Kinvara in Co. Galway Ireland. He was a prolific maker with well-outfitted studios in both locations where he spent many hours creating organically shaped pottery in brightly colored patterns. This pizzazz was reflected in his dress with many a brightly colored outfit of stripes and polka dots.

In 2007 The Craft Council of Ireland selected John as the subject for their first ever lifetime achievement exhibition at their national headquarters gallery in Kilkenny where they hosted a sold-out month-long retrospective of his work. In 2008 'A Life In Colour', an hour-long documentary film of his life and work was shown nationally on Irish television.

John loved poetry, travel, all kinds of music and books. He was a gregarious, great storyteller exuding fun and cheer. His flower gardens will continue to be a delight to behold. He was a joyful man, kind, generous, thoughtful, caring and supportive of young people.

He leaves his wife, Primm; their three daughters, Felicitas ffrench, Crispina Swindlehurst, and Sofia Hughes; four grandchildren, Ben Paley, Lily Hughes, Lucy and Violet Swindlehurst, and his sister, Ellie Agnew of Ardrahan, Co. Galway.

FUNERAL NOTICE: His funeral will take place on Friday, Jan. 29, at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph's on Elm St. in Stockbridge with a luncheon at Crissey Farm to follow.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Art Department at Monument Mountain Reg. HS or to Hospice Care of the Berkshires.

Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Jan. 26, 2010
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