Pearson was the son of William, a journeyman broom maker, and Eliza, and was born in Lambeth. In the 1880s he took up a traineeship in metalwork with the Home Arts and Industries Association in London. He became a ceramics designer and decorator with William de Morgan working with decorative tiles and blanks, the patterns of which were later reproduced in his copper work designs. While working with de Morgan and in ill health, he was discovered by C R Ashbee, the designer and social idealist, who offered him the chance to be a founder member of the Guild of Handicraft, a co-operative of Craftsmen then being set up in Whitechapel. He and John Williams became the Guild's first metalworkers in 1888.
Following a dispute with his colleagues, Pearson resigned, and for a time he worked independently both as a ceramics designer and as a maker of repousse metalware - mostly in copper - producing chargers, vases, firescreens, mirror frames and the like. A few months later, he was invited by John Drew MacKENZIE, a young painter and designer, to join him in Newlyn where he would instruct the teachers in the Industrial Class set up to help young fishermen learn new skills. Moreover, Pearson was able to bring with him improved techniques, most notably the jealously guarded innovation of beating the copper out against a block of lead rather than the much less responsive pitch.
Pearson stayed in Newlyn for some six years, and the designs originating from his de Morgan days (mythological dragons, strange animals and birds, galleons, trees and fruit) can be seen in both his own work of this period and in the work of the students. He learned new and more local subjects derived from the sea and the local landscape. Towards the end of the 1890s, Pearson returned permanently to London, and in 1901 acquired a new home and workshop in Hanway Street (W1). He continued to teach from there, to decorate ceramics and to beat copper, and both Liberty and Morris sold his work in this period. In 1929, he closed his workshop and retired to Canvey Island(Essex ), where, a few months later, he died. At his death, his occupation was described as 'art connoisseur'.
Artist, designer, teacher
works and access
Works include: repoussé copper dish (1893); Copper plaques on exterior, NAG, Newlyn; Jardiniere; Ceramic charger (painted)
Photo likeness: Hardie 2009, p133: Pearson in his workshop
Access to works: Books as listed below, and Penlee House Gallery & Museum.
Guild of Handicraft 1888 (first metalworker alongside John Williams)
misc further info
Bennett & Pill (2008) Newlyn Copper (illus)
Berriman (1986) Arts and Crafts in Newlyn 1890-1930
Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn/Diary;
Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn & West Cornwall (b&w and col pls)
Jordan & Chard Fine Arts, Bridge House, St Clement Street, Truro http://www.discoveringcornwall.co.uk/jordan-chard-fine-art-i486.html
T Jones (Special Correspondent) Penlee House and Museum, Penzance (http://www.penleehouse.org.uk/collections.html)