Dynamic Designers Study Weekend

Wedgwood Memorial College, Barlaston

Wedgwood College

7-9 April 2000

Some of the greatest designers of the Twentieth Century have worked in the ceramics industry. Household names have become highly collectable and eagerly sought by enthusiasts. But what was behind the people who created these wonderful designs?

This study weekend set out to explore the work of women in ceramics design and the effect they had on our ceramics history. Concentrating on several of the better known names.

The weekend started on the Friday evening with an brief outline of the designers to be discussed and the period to which they made their strongest contribution, followed by a 'getting to know you' session at the local pub.

Saturday started with a lecture by Greg Stevenson on the work of Clarice Cliff, famous for her bright and bold Art Deco designs. The origins of her work and the inspiration for some of her designs were discussed, along with a summary of her personal life and the success of the Clarice Cliff range. After a break for coffee, Sharon Gater introduced us to the women designers of Wedgwood. Starting with female contributions made as early as 1750, we were quickly whisked into the Twentieth Century, where the merits of designers like Millicent Taplin and Daisy Makeig-Jones were under review. The role of some of the male designers at the factory during the periods discussed were also included.

During the morning session we were lucky enough to be joined by Alison Wright, the great niece of Clarice Cliff, who brought along some of Clarice's personal effects.

After lunch we were joined by Kathie Winkle, while Andrew Casey provided a summary of her career at Broadhurst, illustrated with slides of her work. Kathie kindly answered questions from those attending. We were also joined at this time by Rene Dale who worked as an outliner and decorator for Clarice Cliff, along with Jim Hall who also worked at the Wilkinsons factory. Both kindly answered questions, talking about their work and life in the late thirties.

A show and tell session followed, with Andrew and others sharing their knowledge of ceramic design. The Channel 4 programme 'The Pottery Ladies' was also shown.

The days lectures were rounded off with a look at the work of Susie Cooper, given by Andrew Casey, Susie's full career was discussed, from her background through the Gray's years, her own independent productions and on into the years at Wedgwood.

The second day brought us into more recent times. Jessie Tait's work at Midwinter was first for review, from the well know patterns produced during the fifties, such as 'Festival' and 'Primavera' through to popular sixties designs like 'Spanish Garden.'

Steve Mackay, author of a soon to be published book on Portmeirion* brought along examples from his own collection so we could look at the designs of Susan William-Ellis. Covering the buyout of A.E.Gray in the 1950s through the wacky designs of the sixties and on to possible her most famous pattern 'Botanic Garden.' The aim was to illustrate that Susan had designed far more than just this pattern which has now become synonymous with Portmeirion.

An enjoyable weekend, with an informal approach to the lectures, aided by Andrew's appetite for sharing recollections of his mealtime meetings with the famous names of the Potteries.

Andrew Casey
Andrew Casey discusses a collectors pot
Pottery Ladies
Alison Wright (Clarice Cliff's great niece)
Jim Hall (Wilkinsons)
Kathie Winkle (Designer, Broadhurst)
Rene Dale (Clarice Cliff paintress 'Bizarre Girl')
show and tell
Show and Tell
final lecture
Steve Mackay prepares for our final lecture