Opus Sectile: Art from Recycled Scrap, Dennis Hadley

All Saints Church, Reading. Photo: Dave Hutchins

All Saints Church, Reading.

Published posthumously and with permission of the Author
by the Tiles & Architectural Ceramics Society 2018


It is now 17 years since TACS first published Dennis Hadley’s Powell’s list: Opus sectile work by Powell’s of Whitefriars on our website. While this list remains online and is uncorrected at 2018 it continues to have considerable research value and is freely available to all. In October 2006, Dennis Hadley was invited by TACS to present a paper to a well attended conference on conference on Church Ceramics at Coalbrookdale. The title of his paper was then as now: Opus Sectile: Art from recycled scrap. This new publication, written in late 2014, is an updated and revised version of that 2006 paper, and together with the Powell„s list represents a comprehensive record of one man„s personal research on this specialist subject. Dennis Hadley wished TACS to have his collection of photographs of opus sectile and these were donated to the Society in 2014. A number of these images, captioned by him, are reproduced here. The quality of the images is sometimes variable but we offer no apologies for this. It is a publication intended as an article of record only, a setting down of almost everything that Dennis Hadley had to say about opus sectile and contained within it is his hope that others might want to take his research further. The term “opus sectile” continues to be used in descriptions of medieval tile production or to refer to medieval pavements of stone and marble mosaic. See for example, Elizabeth Eames’ Catalogue of Medieval Lead-glazed Earthenware Tiles which was published in 1980 for the British Museum, or Alun Graves’ Tiles and Tilework of Europe, published by the V&A in 2002. However, the term as used by Dennis Hadley in this paper employs opus sectile’s contemporary meaning and refers to tile pieces of varying shapes assembled in jigsaw-like designs and placed on walls rather than as part of a floor. Sadly, Dennis Hadley died in April 2015 and before he was able to see this paper published. We have not attempted to alter anything that he wrote. Consequently, it is possible that there will be one or two references in the notes to further research or small corrections to the text which on rereading the first proof he might have wished to alter. When TACS was in discussion with Dennis Hadley about the publication of this paper on opus sectile, it was understood that permission for reproduction of particular images that were not his copyright had been granted to him by the relevant individual or organisation. If this is not the case and there are objections, then please notify TACS and we will ensure that such images are withdrawn.

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