Rollo (1917-1998) and Marion Ballantyne (1926-2017)
Today the decorative art collections comprise over 6,000 objects – including ceramics, glass, jewellery, metalwork and wood. The metalwork includes the important Gibbs collection of Georgian domestic silver. On the ground floor at the Castle there are two galleries showcasing contemporary and historic work from around the world, crossing time and media and also a gallery dedicated to the Ballantyne collection of 20th century British studio ceramics. The Ballantyne collection was started in 1971 by Dr.Rollo Ballantyne and his wife Marion. On a wet day in Cornwall, Rollo’s brother David, a ceramicist and teacher, suggested that they visit the studio of potter Michael Cardew. The Ballantyne’s purchased a stoneware stool and they were bitten by the ‘clay bug’.
Over the following years, they amassed a wonderful collection of studio ceramics, often purchased direct from the makers. In fact, it was this opportunity to meet potters, talk to them about their work face to face, and visit them in their studios to see how it was made, that fired the Ballantyne’s enthusiasm and inspired their collection as it evolved.
Rollo Ballantyne was born in Nottingham in 1917, one of triplets. His father was a Unitarian minister in a family where involvement in the arts was through music rather than visual art. Medicine became Rollo’s chosen profession but his passion for the contemporary ceramics of his day, has left us with a glimpse of his and Marion’s personal view of pot making during the 1970s and 1980s in England.
From 1980 the collection was administered by a Trust, of which Rollo and Marion were members and the collection continued to grow. Today the collection consists of over 370 pieces, including work on loan to the collection from Derbyshire County Council. The Ballantyne collection represents the work of 60 potters, including Richard Batterham and Ray Finch, Bernard Leach, David Leach and Alan Caiger-Smith, Lucie Rie and Hans Coper, Mary Rogers and Joanna Constantinidis , Jane Hamlyn and Janice Tchalenko.
The collection came to Nottingham Castle museum and Art Gallery in 1996.