Jean Powell – Designer in Chief
If it were required to identify a single, inspired individual from whom the company Craig Bragdy was born, developed and matured then it is Jean Powell.
Though it was Rhys (Taffy), her partner and husband since they met at art school, who was the flux. He was a man of vision and of grand ambition. He could ‘see’ Jean’s talent and creativity and moved to translate this into a livelihood and a business. Together they formed a partnership that was as inspired as it was driven.
A passion to draw
Jean has spent her life exploring a connection between life drawing and hand made ceramics. Jean’s interest in drawing became most notable in her later high school years at Wallasey. Probably, more than anything, in Jean there is a passion for life drawing – today, Jean draws regularly. It has been a lifetime’s empathy – though it was at Wallasey Art School that she was first introduced to ceramics. It is a fine line that distinguishes her passion for life drawing from her interest in ceramics. To Jean, to all intents and purposes they are one and the same – inseparable! At age 87 she visits Craig Bragdy’s factory and swimming pool design room daily as part of her routine. Her vision today remains sharp, focused and indefatigable.
Jean lives in the heart of Denbigh, in ‘Craig Bragdy’ (Welsh for ‘Rock Brewery’ – a reminder of the main activity here in the 1800’s), her house and her studio and, of course, the origin of the company’s name. Just one mile away from Craig Bragdy’s (factory) work place there is a direct connection to activities there – the design and manufacture of hand made ceramics. It is her passion and her life’s blood. Though making swimming pool designs and manufacturing ceramics for swimming pools has happened at Craig Bragdy only in relatively recent years. Fifty years ago she designed and manufactured pots.
Her interest with working for pools first occurred in the seventies with three mermaids designed to swim in the base of the pool at the Empire Hotel in Llandudno. Though just a small work, this was one defining and inspiring moment for Jean. A vision that combined both her life passions – drawing and ceramics – in one expressive, fascinating and (for Taffy at least) potentially commercial vehicle.
Creatively, she realised the pools’ water added changing dimensions to her work – at alternate times, stillness (bringing magnification) and movement (animation and pattern) – she discovered then that ceramic murals have a truly magical quality when combined with water as a swimming pool design. Since those early and experimental forays into water, many hundreds of pools have been decorated – the world’s most spectacular swimming pool designs. Craig Bragdy was and remains a family business with a rich history of creativity and vision in pottery, murals and swimming pool ceramics.