Bernard Moss Pottery
In the glass cabinet at the top of the stairs you will find a collection of Bernard’s work, which has kindly been donated to the museum by Dr Frances Marx in memory of her father, Dr Harold Marx. Bernard’s figures are very distinctive and most of them also move!
Bernard Moss is descended from Russian emigres who came to England in the late 19th century to escape the pogroms in their native land. Bernard was born in London in 1923.
His move towards a career in ceramics started soon after the end of World War Two. On leaving the army he settled in Soho and tried his hand at various ways to earn a living. While working as a fabric designer in the East End an acquaintance taught him how to make moulds. Bernard and his wife, Moreen moved to Mevagissey in 1949. They lived in a rented cottage with no gas, electricity or even running water.
Bernard produced models of figures, often with a Jewish theme, and Moreen, who was a highly skilled graphic artist, decorated them. He was fascinated by automata, and devised a method to add movement to his models by means of pivots and counter-balances.
His first mobile figure became known as 'the nodder', and having heard that Heal's department store was a good outlet for ceramics he took his nodder up to London with the aim of selling it through the store. The buyer was not impressed, and told Bernard they would not be wanting any.
As he trudged dejectedly through the store looking for the exit a smartly dressed gentleman noticed him, and said that he looked as though he had lost half-a-crown and found sixpence. He approached Bernard and said, "What's the matter with you, young man. Why are you so unhappy?" Bernard told him of his experience with the ceramics buyer and showed the gentleman his nodder. "Well go back to the buyer," he said, "and tell him Mr Worthington says we want a dozen!"
Mr Worthington, it turned out, was a director of the store, and the encounter led to a long relationship not with Heal's department store but with Heal's Fabrics. They bought eighty to a hundred pieces each year as gifts for their best clients.