Aberdeen Art Gallery has re-opened after a four year closure, during which it has undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment and extension. This is the first of a several short blog posts highlighting individual items of interest.
Aberdeen Art Gallery I -Majel Davidson and Gushetneuk Pottery
Room 6 contains displays of tableware, drinking vessels and utensils. It includes an earthenware preserve pot, described simply as the work of Majel Davidson, who founded Gushetneuk Pottery in 1927.
Margaret Elizabeth Jemima (Majel) Davidson was born in Aberdeen in 1885. She attended Gray’s School of Art, and her paintings were included in an exhibition at the Northern Arts Club in 1910. The Aberdeen Daily Journal stated that “for a student the works are very remarkable.” She furthered her studies in Rome in 1910 and (with the aid of a scholarship) in Paris in 1911-12.
She served as an ambulance driver with the V.A.D. during the First World War.
After the war she moved to Canada, but returned to Aberdeen to create Guthshetneuk Pottery. The Aberdeen Press & Journal carried frequent references to her work, as “the only woman potter in Aberdeen who practices this ancient craft on a large scale.” Gushetneuk produced a large variety of pottery for everyday use, plus speciality pieces and commissions for children’s crockery painted with the child’s name.
During the Second World War Majel Davidson was appointed ARP ambulance officer for Aberdeen and also organised mobile canteens.
In the 1950s, Majel Davidson moved away from pottery and returned to painting, joining a female community at Powis, near Stirling.
Looking at the preserve pot, I wanted to see more of Majel Davidson’s work. I believe there are examples in the National Museum in Edinburgh and I intend to seek them out the next time I visit Edinburgh.
(With thanks to Nick Hide and the Clan Davidson Association for the photographs of Majel Davidson)