In late 1958, Peter Stichbury began working and studying with Michael Cardew at the Abuja Pottery Training Centre in Nigeria, becoming his first western pupil. Cardew had established the Centre seven years earlier to teach Nigerians to make modern tableware in the western style. This aim complemented the traditional pottery practices of local tribes, who had been producing superb practical pots for centuries.
Like Cardew, Stichbury was captivated by the work he saw, its diverse styles, decorative motifs and production techniques reflecting the area’s many tribal traditions. Working alongside potters in Abuja, and often driving out to distant villages with his wife Diane, Stichbury learned all he could about local clays, hand-building, glazes, firing, and decorative techniques. He collected many fine pieces. But perhaps the greatest legacy of Stichbury’s stay is seen in the shapes and decorative techniques of his subsequent work, much of which reveals the profound influence of Nigerian pottery.