Ady Krøyer, Denmark 1933-2016
This is a revised and updated edition of an article I originally wrote and published in 2015 with the assistance of Ady and Vibeke Rohland. Edited extracts of the original publication and additional archive material from Ady’s sons Bo and Per Kroyer can be seen on the website set up in memoriam at Adykeramik.dk
I first came across Ady’s pottery in 2011 when I purchased in an auction “bay lot”, an elegant stoneware fajance jug with a stylish blue black and white geometric pattern – and “Ady” inscribed to the base (First image below). I come across a lot of pottery which is hard to identify, but pieces from an accomplished and experienced potters always shine and stand out from the rest – it often takes a long time however (if ever) for the maker to be revealed…I was able to find a few other examples of Ady’s work online, but not much else to indicate who the maker was or any other clues.
Fortunately in June 2014 Vibeke Rohland – a designer in Copenhagen, contacted me through my blog when she found a blog post I had done which had a photograph of the jug, and she identified her Aunt Ady Kroyer as the maker. After that, with the assistance of Ady and Vibeke, I have had the privilege of a glimpse into the working life of a post WWII studio Potter in Denmark.
Ady in a way was like many other potter’s around the world working alone, who have had well established studios and careers but never seemed to achieve the public profile and recognition during their working life you would expect them to given the quality of their work. In the past year or so it has been great to see the level of interest in Ady’s work receiving new recognition and being re-discovered.
A brief biography:
Ady was born in Kongens Lyngby, Denmark 1933 – and from a young age demonstrated an artistic talent which resulted in her getting an apprenticeship at the age of 16 with Zeuthen Keramik in 1949.
Zeuthen Keramik had been founded in 1946 at Gentofte , near Copenhagen by Normann Zeuthen, and traded under the named Zeuthen Keramik from 1948. The workshop employed around 10-15 people. Zeuthen pottery became well known for its functional and domestic works in red clay decorated with motifs of flowers, stars, dots and other decorative motifs in white raised glaze or slip on the unglazed smooth red clay.
At Zeuthen, Ady showed great skill with the use of decorating with the traditional cow horn to apply slip or glaze , and was able to produce straight lines using this technique as well – a difficult skill to master. This skill in decorating ceramics, which came from her love of drawing and painting, went on to make Ady a valuable member of each pottery she worked at during her apprenticeship years.
Part of the reason that Ady also jumped at the chance to work at Zeuthen was that she was allowed to stay after the working day to make her own ceramics, which enabled her to practice and develop her skills further – especially those of wheel throwing, and further developing her own repertoire of patterns and decorations.
After her time at Zeuthen, Ady went with her friend from Zeuthen – Birte Vedel Howard – to Norway and worked at Larholm Pottery, located in the town of Halden, very close to the Swedish border. The pottery employed about 25 staff at its peak, and produced utilitarian wares of high decorative and aesthetic quality for both the local and export market.
At the age of 18 Ady moved to Jani Keramik, located in the town of Laholm, Sweden where her main work was to decorate the ceramics. Jani Keramik was a pottery of about 20 employees which operated from 1949 to 1970 – having been founded by Jane Wahlstedt and her husband Nils Larsson. Jani Keramik is well known for its’ use of bright colours, exotic Mexican and African faces and figures, and other ethnographic and exotic plant and animal motifs which were hugely popular after WWII.
Some of the pottery at Jani Keramik was decorated using a technique of scratching into the clay called “Sgrafitto” and then filling these lines with glaze to build up the colour. This technique appealed to Ady who often used it later in her own work.
Following her time at Jani, Ady moved on to Hegnetlund, a large old pottery and brickworks which was located in Koge , 39km southwest of Copenhagen. At Hegnetlund Ady’s role was primarily production wheel throwing, as well as performing some very heavy duties like loading the outside kilns with coal from large wheelbarrows.
Ady’s brief, and final placements as an apprentice were at Joska Keramik (which operated from 1939-1959) Copenhagen, (founded by Jonna Luthoft, Sven Nielsen, Karen Margrethe Karberg) and finally a short stint at the large Lyngby Porcelaensfabrik factory.
Ady Krøyer The Studio Potter
After her 4 years as an apprentice, in 1954 Ady moved into her own workshop in Rodovre near Copenhagen, but she soon realised that a larger kiln and premises were necessary if she was to make a living from pottery.
She found the perfect location near Roskilde about 30km from Copenhagen in a former millhouse. Here she worked full time until about 1975, when muscular rheumatism made it difficult for her to continue as a potter, although she produced some ceramics until the early 1990s when she finally closed her studio. From 1975, Ady also taught ceramics locally in Roskilde for 12 years or so which both she and her students found enjoyable and rewarding.
The first series of work which Ady produced in the 1950s as a professional potter, was a yellow and black design in various patterns and shapes. This proved to be a popular and enduring design.
Those designs were followed by black and white motifs as pictured in the first 2 images below – this style was very fashionable during the 1950s and 1960s across all types of visual arts.
Then came the colourful, complex patterns applied on the top of a satin white glaze, which were produced into the 1970s. Both the forms and the decorations show a whole new level of sophistication and growth by Ady as an artist and potter.
Some of my personal favourite forms by Ady are the beautiful bulbous forms below.
They are such elegant organic forms, really well complimented by the elegantly cured neck and flared aperture – like a baby bird’s open beak.
Ady Kroyer’s pottery can be easily recognized with “Ady” hand carved to the base. For about a period of about 1 year only Ady used her married name and you may come across pottery inscribed Ady in the centre, with Kroyer Johansen carved around it.
One of my favourite photos of Ady’s work is the one below – by Vibeke Rohland – a simple, quiet shot taken on a window sill in Copenhagen.