Museum Treasures: Ozzy the Owl
Our Spitfire may have flown the nest for a little while but our favourite ceramic owl has stayed put. Ozzy first came to the world’s attention on an episode of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow in March 1990. He was acquired shortly afterwards by the museum to join the significant slipware collection and is one of the museum’s most iconic objects. Ozzy’s seller used the money from this sale to support five orphans from around the world.
Ozzy’s body has been thrown and moulded wings and modelled feet applied. The head acts as a cover for the jug and can be removed and used as a cup. Different coloured slips have been run onto the body of the jug then mixed together to form a feathered effect. Trailing and dotting techniques have been used around the eyes.
Staffordshire slipware is one of the most famous pottery types to have been produced in the region. However these wares tend to be unmarked, making it difficult to attribute Ozzy and his fellow wares to individual potters or decorators. It is widely believed that Ozzy was made somewhere in Staffordshire between 1670 and 1730 making him over 280 years old. Ozzy’s previous owners admitted to using him as a door stop which makes it all the more remarkable that he survived in such good condition!
Ozzy sits proud in the museum’s ceramic gallery and continues to charm and inspire a whole new generation of visitors and potters.