Northern Pottery

Niels R. - mug and warmerNiels R. is from a quarter of Hamburg called Finkenwerder, where this stoneware mug and tea warmer were made. They are part of a larger collection of pottery that his parents gave him in the early 2000s. Niels uses the mug frequently, especially on cold, rainy days, or, as northern Germans might say: ‘Schmuddelwedda’ – bad weather. German has many dialects and some linguists believe that it is one of the most varied languages in Europe. Schmuddelwedda is a Low German term, a vernacular that is spoken in northern parts of the country.

The potter who made Niels’ crockery set, Sabine Kinau, is a descendant of the poet Gorch Fock (1880-1916). Fock, whose real name was Johann Wilhelm Kinau, wrote stories and poetry for Hamburg newspapers in Low German and his most popular work, the novel Seefahrt ist Not! (Seafaring is Hardship!), contains dialogue in Low German. Fock died at the young age of thirty-six years during the First World War when the SMS Wiesbaden was sunk at the Battle of Jutland. After his death, both his brothers continued writing in their local dialect.

Before coming to London in 1990, Niels lived in Erlangen in northern Bavaria in Germany, away from his hometown and the waterfront. He moved to the UK when he was offered a job and now works for a small consultancy called Rightscom. The boat illustrations on the mugs remind Niels of Hamburg’s proximity to the sea.

Object Information

  • Year of Production: Early 2000s
  • Artist: Susanne Kinau
  • Place of Production: Hamburg-Finkenwerder
  • Material: Stoneware
  • Size: 7 x 7 cm
  • Colour: Sand-coloured; various illustrations
  • Further elements in the set: Teapot Warmer, Bowls, Flower Pots