Ceramicist Lili John and Devon Development Education are hosting a celebration of the life of 19th century potter, poet and slave David Drake for Black History Month on Thursday 20 October.
An interactive workshop at Exeter Community Centre will begin with a spiritualist song and the story of David Drake’s life. Lili John will then help participants to write poetry about their own lives before creating hand-built pottery inspired by their efforts.
David Drake, also known as “Dave the Potter”, was an American potter and enslaved African American who lived and worked in Edgefield, South Carolina. Born on a plantation, he was one of 76 enslaved African Americans to have worked in the town’s pottery factories.
His earliest recorded work is a pot dating from 1834. Scholars believe that David Drake made more than 40,000 pieces over his lifetime. His pots, jars and jugs were often inscribed with poems during a time in which it was generally forbidden for African Americans to read and write.
Drake became a free man after the American Civil War, which ended in 1865. He died sometime in the 1870’s.
Lili John is a contemporary mix media artist, arts tutor and author from Totnes. Her work is influenced by her dual Celtic and African heritage and her love of nature.
She is a trustee of Daisi, an Exeter not-for-profit arts education organisation, and founder of a co-operative which promotes work created by Devon women artists.
Celebrating Dave Drake: Slave, Master Potter and Poet is at 6-8.30pm on Thursday 20 October at Exeter Community Centre.
The event is free. More information and bookings via Eventbrite.