Friday 18 December 2009

Clarice Cliff, 1930s

Even Clarice Cliff (1899-1972),who took the pottery world by storm from the late 1920s with her bold and colourful art deco designs, could not avoid traditional imagery of the countryside.

This is her Farmhouse pattern - with thatched roof inevitably - which made its first appearance in 1931. It's on the conical bowl shape that Cliff introduced in 1929, one of a series of new designs that were brought in as the stock of the old Newport Pottery - which had been taken over by Wilkinson's and which Cliff used for her early output - ran down.

The base of the bowl bears the name of Wilkinson Ltd, the firm in Middleport near Stoke that Clarice Cliff joined as a decorator in 1916. Here her creative talent in hand-painting of pottery was spotted and nurtured by Colley Shorter, one of the firm's directors and, ultimately, her husband. Also there is the brand-name Bizarre which Cliff used in the early period of 1928-1935 to give her ware a distinctive cachet. This bowl therefore dates from between 1931 and 1935, the heyday of Clarice Cliff output.

A hierarchy of three groups of workers, most of them female, decorated the ware: the outliners who drew the pattern, the enamellers who painted in the colours, and the banders who applied the bright colourful rings.

When production resumed after the Second World War, Clarice Cliff took more of a back seat. On the death of Colley Shorter in 1963, she sold the Wilkinson firm to Midwinter.

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