British Art Pottery
Alison has developed a particular interest in British Art Pottery. The appeal comes as much from the social and political dimension that inspired the manufacturers, as to the aesthetic quality and originality of the ceramics.
The designers and factories of the Art Noveau era were pushing the boundaries of creativity, chemistry and design. Many of these studios were actively rebuking the machine age and supporting the social philosophers of the day who were proposing the return to local crafts, the dignity of the worker and the movement away from elaborate ornamentation to simpler lines and design.
To find out more about the individual factories and artists, please click on the links below.
- William de Morgan
William de Morgan
De Morgan worked closely with some of the other historical figures of the Arts and Crafts movement such as William Morris and Burne-Jones and was a founder member of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society.
Initially de Morgan decorated blanks, both tiles from Holland and ceramic vessels from J.H. and J.Davis, Staffordshire firing his piece in a kiln constructed in his Family home in Fitzroy square, London (Circa 1869). In 1872 he moved to Chelsea where he also developed a retail outlet for his production and employed the service of the Passengers to assist in the decoration of the wares. In 1882 he moved again to Merton Abbey, London where his production of ‘in house’ pottery stopped his reliance on bought in blanks.
As de Morgan’s technical expertise developed his range of glaze techniques multiplied and by 1888 when he moved to Sands End, Fulham he was consistently producing high quality double and triple lustre glazes.
De Morgan’s glazes were principally divided in two, the Persian ware in a middle-eastern palate and lustre glazes in single, double and triple colour ways. Designs were typically arts and crafts: animals, galleons, stylized floral motifs and mythical beasts and these were transposed to chargers, bowls, vases and tiles.
From 1882 with failing health, the production of the factory was left in the hands of the Passengers who continued to receive designs from de Morgan from his Florence home. De Morgan retired in 1907 but his inspiration continued under the stewardship of the Passengers who set up their own company “Bushey Heath” producing both Persian and lustre glazes from 1921 – 1933.
Early Doulton employees included George Tinworth and Hannah Barlow and they contributed to the company’s rapid success and formal recognition through the major international exhibitions i.e. the Grand Prix at the 188 Paris Exhibition.
The studio was joined by further artists including Frank Butler, Mark Marshall formerly employed by the Martin Brothers, and Eliza Simmance, one of the many women artists employed within the Company; the contributed to the great success of the development of the art nouveau style.
Wedgwood's move into art pottery was pioneered by William Burton, who began the development of lustre glazes prior to his move to Pilkington’s Pottery in 1893. This was continued by Daisy Makeig-Jones, a local art school student who was allowed to develop her own style of decoration. Drawing on the work of distinguished artists such Arthur Rackham and H.J Ford, she introduced the Fairyland Lustre Ware and along with her “ordinary lustres” which drew their influence from the Far East was instrumental to Wedgwood’s success in the 1920s and 30s.
- Contemporary Artist - Heidi Warr
Heidi Warr has an established history in the collectable ceramic art market. She worked at Dennis Chinaworks for nearly 16 years and for many of them she was the principle decorator. Over the years she has amazed those who love and collect art pottery with her skill as a decorator. Her work has sold for thousands of pounds through Bonham’s Auction House and has retailed at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Now Heidi has burst forth onto the collectable ceramic art market scene with her own range where she showcases herself as a competent and outstanding designer as well as one of the finest ceramic decorators.
Heidi creates individual handmade slab built earthenware towers and decorates the pieces using traditional methods including slip-trailing, incising and different brush techniques with under-glaze colours, stains and oxides. These methods date back hundreds of years and she is keeping important traditions alive. The pieces she creates are bold statements which merge the traditional with the contemporary.
Each design has a meaning and a message, which as an authentic artist she feels it is important to convey through her work. Seeing the execution of her skills on the earthenware towers, one is left in no doubt about the quality and desirability of the pieces.
It is unquestionable that Heidi has a long career ahead of her as a unique artist, able to design, create and decorate her own ceramic art pottery. It will be thrilling to be part of her journey as she grows as an artist and satisfies our passion for highly collectable and exquisitely decorated ceramic artwork.
- Contemporary Artist - Emma Clegg
Emma’s instinctive ability to create original and stunning ceramics came originally from spending hours as a child in and around her father’s pottery factories in Stoke on Trent.
However, rather than training as a ceramicist, she trained in Fine Art, which resulted in working in The City on a large Corporate Art Collection. After relocating to the Cotswold’s she began working with clay again, establishing herself as a talented ceramic artist and designer.
Emma uses only porcelain clay, arguably the most difficult of clays to master. The results however are worth it. Its’ translucent and luminescent qualities, the effect of fragility and the delicacy of her work means that it is the only clay that she’s prepared to use, achieving outstanding and unique results. Emma uses both throwing and hand building techniques to achieve the finished piece, each piece is asymmetrical and organic, taking its’ form from the base upward, as if the piece has grown.
The inspiration for Emma’s work comes from the hedgerows indigenous to her local Cotswold’s, and an old Edward Raby piece that she grew up with, always fascinated by the delicacy and realism that he achieved in his clay flowers.
‘Fortnum and Mason’ commissioned Emma to make a tea service for their 2010 ‘Hand Made’ exhibition, and since then she has exhibited at the Geffrye Museum in 2011, London, where she will be exhibiting again this year as part of their ceramics show.
In 2012 Emma, along with other designers and artists such as Sir Peter Blake and Mark Quinn, was asked to design and make an egg for the Faberge ‘Big Egg Hunt’, where her egg, ‘Vanitas Vitrified’ was sponsored by Sotheby’s, and fetched £17,000 at the grand auction. The organizers have since asked her to design and make another piece for their next project to be held in New York for 2013.
- Contemporary Artist - Victoria Ellis
Victoria Ellis has to be a name to watch out for!
From her purpose built workshop at home in Norwich, she produces the most exquisite ceramic panels, each one a unique design painstakingly carved. It is a process that can take weeks: for example, the carving for the Isolde plaque shown in this exhibition took in excess of 70 hours. With such time consuming work Victoria is only able to produce a small number of pieces each year.
Victoria qualified from Art School at the University of Northumbria and has since gone on to produce work for the Royal Institute of British Architects, and has undertaken numerous private commissions for Important Arts and Crafts Houses both in the UK and abroad. In addition to exhibiting at prestigious events such as the Art in Clay Festival, Victoria has, for the last three years produced work for Bonham’s annual British Art Pottery Sale, having been sought out by the Department Director Mark Oliver. These pieces, in a highly competitive market-place, regularly command five figure prices; the top price to date being a whisker short of £5000
It was whilst visiting Bonham’s sale that Victoria’s work caught the eye of Alison Davey, MD of AD antiques. Alison was impressed with Victoria’s superb technical ability, and also her beautiful designs inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement. It is clear to Alison that whilst Victoria’s work has huge aesthetic appeal, and is of the highest quality it also represents a potentially good investment for her established clients who will appreciate the unique nature of each hand crafted piece.
Victoria does not produce limited editions;each piece is totally unique!
- Pilkingtons Royal Lancastrian
Pilkingtons Royal Lancastrian
Established in 1892 under the stewardship of William Burton who had previously worked as the chemist to Wedgwoods. Sited in Clifton Junction, north of Manchester, the factory was initially known for its tile output. However in 1906, the same year as Gordon Forsyth joined the Company, they began their experiments with their lustre glazes and it is this work that has become the most prized of the factories output; this was a technically complex process using reduction lustre techniques and was overseen by the in house chemist Abraham Lomax. Burton was a follower of the pioneers and the principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement and employed staff whose work would reflect the ethos and the aesthetics of the Movement. Commissions were appointed by some of the leading designers of the day such as Walter Crane and these were decorated by in house artists such as Charles Cundall who was later to become the official World War Two War Artist. Pilkington’s was prized for its quality and artistic merit and was well received at the Franco British Exhibition of 1908, was retailed through Liberty & Co and after a visit from King George V in 1913 the factory was awarded the Royal Warrant.
- William Moorcroft
Initially employed by James MacIntyre’s in Burslem after a distinguished training in Stoke and London, William Moorcroft developed a formidable reputation as a designer and his work was sought after by leading companies of the day such as Liberty & Co and Tiffany’s. Whilst at MacIntyres he was responsible for the design of the highly popular Florian Range that drew its inspiration from the Art Nouveau Movement. In 1904 it was William’s designs that were awarded the Gold medal at the St Louis Exhibition; the first of many international accolades. In 1913 William left MacIntyre’s to form his own Company, and in doing so developed a new range of designs and glazes; it was at this time that he built a flambé kiln and it is this work that is some of his best regarded that was later developed further by his son Walter who took over the running of the company in 1945. William’s most successful designs were bold and vivid drawing inspiration from the arts and crafts movement; fish, flowers and landscapes were decorated with a tube lined technique which has become synonymous with the Moorcroft factory. In 1928 Williams work was given royal patronage by Queen Mary and was awarded with the Royal Warrant.
- Martin Brothers
The “Genius” of the Martin Brothers was born out of the early apprentiships of Robert and Edwin at the Doulton Lambeth factories and prior to that at the Palace of Westminster. Each of the Four Brothers had distinct roles with in the Studio; Robert Wallace was the self-appointed figure head of the factory and was principally responsible for the modelling; the face jugs and grotesques were largely his work. Charles ran the shop and gallery at High Holborn, London, whilst Edwin was the principle decorator and Walter the thrower.
They were the early pioneers of the studio pottery movement, using salt glaze stoneware to produce their unique and hand crafted designs. The vessels range from the early formal geometric and floral designs through to their comical and grotesque vases and models incorporating birds and sea creatures and the highly unusual “spoonwarmers”.
Later production focussed on a range of organic gourd vases. Their work was highly collectable even at the time of production and they were patronised by some of the leading philanthropists, merchants and politicians of the day. It is said that their grotesque “Wally Birds” were modelled on leading public figures of the day.