‘Three Spinsters’

Category Ceramics
Sub category
Artist / Designer Thomas ‘Sam’ Haile
Material Earthenware
Place of origin United Kingdom, England, Devon, Dartington, Shinner’s Bridge
Date Ca 1948 (made)

Deep yellow glaze with raised decoration in coloured slips.

Diameter 39cm

Impressed acorn mark and ‘SH’ cypher. Applied exhibition label ‘9’.

Ref no


One of Sam Haile’s last works, Spinster’s Rock was made at Shinner’s Bridge, Dartington in 1947, and was inspired by the Neolithic cromlech at nearby Chagford. The three uprights are said to be three spinsters turned to stone. Haile often drew on mythology as a source and the Spinsters were the subject of a number of drawings and ceramic pieces.

Initially a Surrealist painter, he studied ceramics at the Royal College and then taught ceramics at Alfred University, New York during World War Two where he became a influential figure.

Haile was an innovator exploring the relationship between drawing, painting and three-dimensional form. The return to England where he was little known was a challenging time for him and this piece shows him returning to form. Haile’s death in a car accident in 1947 was a major loss to British ceramics.