Clarice Cliff was an English pottery designer and ceramic artist. She is best known for her 1930s Art Deco pottery patterns.
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Facts About Clarice Cliff
- Clarice Cliff was born in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, England in 1899.
- Her father was a worker in an iron foundry and her mother looked after the family’s seven children and did washing for people to bring in some extra money.
- Clarice Cliff went to a different school than her six siblings. At the end of the school day, she used to visit her aunt, a painter at a pottery company.
- Clarice Cliff started working in the pottery industry at the age of just 13. She began as a gilder (adding gold lines to pottery designs) and then became a freehand pottery painter.
- Clarice Cliff started working at the A.J. Wilkinson factory at Burslem in 1916.
- Rather than stick with one task or skill, Clarice Cliff wanted to learn about all of the processes associated with pottery manufacture. She learned to model figurines and vases, outline enamel, hand paint pottery, and keep pattern books.
- In 1927, Clarice Cliff was given a studio connected to Newport Pottery. She decorated defective ware with bright triangular glazed enamel colours. This range was called Bizarre and it quickly became popular with the rise of Art Deco style.
Women today want continual change, they will have colour and plenty of it. Colour seems to radiate happiness and the spirit of modern life and movement, and I cannot put too much of it into my designs to please women.Clarice Cliff
- Her Crocus pattern, released in 1928, proved to be even more popular, and at one point in 1930 twenty pottery painters worked on nothing but this pattern.
- The Crocus pattern was still being produced with Clarice Cliff marks in 1963.
- In 1930, Clarice Cliff was made Art Director to Newport Pottery and A.J. Wilkinson.
- During the 1930s, Clarice Cliff’s Bizarre and Fantasque ware was sold in North America, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, and England.
- Between 1932 and 1934 Clarice Cliff was the art director for The Modern Art for the Table project. This was a collaboration with some of the most well-known artists of the day, including Barbara Hepworth, Paul Nash, Duncan Grant, and Vanessa Bell.
- During the 1930s, more than 300 magazine articles were written about Clarice Cliff and her pottery designs.
- In 1940, Clarice Cliff married Colley Shorter. They lived together at Chetwynd House in Clayton, Staffordshire.
- Clarice Cliff sold her pottery factory in 1964 to a company called Midwinter.
- The first exhibition of Clarice Cliff pottery was held in Brighton between 1971 and 1972. Although Clarice Cliff did provide some notes for the exhibition catalogue, she did not attend in person.
- She died in October 1972 at Chetwynd House. She was 73 years old.
- A movie about Clarice Cliff’s life called The Colour Room was released in 2021, starring Phoebe Dynevor and David Morrisey.
- There are many collectors of Clarice Cliff pottery, and rare combinations of patterns and shapes can fetch a lot of money. For example, a wall plaque decorated in the May Avenue pattern sold at auction for just under £40,000.
- Her work was included in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s New Ceramics Gallery.
- Clarice Cliff has been described as being ‘one of the UK’s most prolific and important ceramicists’ and ‘one of the key names of the Art Deco movement’.
- The Clarice Cliff Collectors Club was founded in 1982 by Leonard Griffin.
- The pottery company Wedgewood owned the Clarice Cliff name from 1992 to 2002. They brought out a range of reproductions of her 1930s patterns.
Having a little fun at my work does not make me any less of an artist and people who appreciate truly beautiful and original creations in pottery are not frightened by innocent tomfoolery!Clarice Cliff