POTTERY | pound for pound, Clarice Cliff's work is worth more than gold|
those of you with an eye for a collectable, Inside Out may have just the thing.
With her bright and original designs, Clarice Cliff took the pottery world of
the 1920s by storm. Now 80 years on, some of her work, pound for pound, is worth
more than gold.
Clarice Cliff was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1899. By
the First World War, she was working in one of the many factories that dominated
By the late 1920s, amid economic recession, Clarice was
designing innovative, colour rich pottery and her career was blossoming.
Cliff's career blossomed in the height of recession|
successful when everyone else was just trying to make some money, she was making
a load of money," explains Leonard Griffin, a Clarice Cliff expert and founder
of the Clarice Cliff Collectors Club.
"The colours sold themselves, they
were in the windows of the stores in London and major cities throughout the world."
A colourful life
Clarice’s pottery was matched in vibrancy by her
equally colourful love life.
During the 1920s, Clarice had an illicit affair
with her then boss, Colly Shorter. Years later the pair married, but it was the
couple’s business partnership that took the pottery industry by storm.
have often said she wouldn’t have succeeded without him, but the fact is, his
factory wouldn’t have succeeded without her," says Leonard.
twenties woman came along and revolutionised British pottery for him."
Nowadays, Cliff’s pottery is still very much in demand and Inside Out
meets Andy Muir from Birmingham, whose collection is arguably one of the largest
in the UK.
Andy selects a classic 1931 piece which he believes embodies
"It’s a classic piece from 1931. Fantastic pattern called
Orange House," says Andy. "Whimsical cottage and cartoony landscape, it’s everything
Clarice was and is today."
This may be a classic example of her work, but
it is not the rarest in the collection. That privilege belongs to an abstract
1930s piece that Andy bought in New Zealand. Today it would fetch a staggering
An acquired taste?
worked for Clarice 70 years ago, but wasn't the greatest fan of her work|
modern day collectors like Andy may marvel a bygone age, Inside Out has tracked
down someone with first hand knowledge of Clarice Cliff.
85 year old Rene
Dale, worked for Clarice at Newport pottery 70 years ago.
Not only was
Clarice an innovative, talented designer, but according to Rene, she an excellent
boss as well.
"You couldn’t have asked for a nicer boss. She thought the
world of the girls you know," says Rene. "She has no family of her own and she
sort of took us on as her family."
Rene may be a huge fan of Clarice’s
management style, but for Rene, her pottery was somewhat of an acquired taste.
for pound, Clarice's work is worth more than gold|
thought it was so gaudy, but then that was the idea, she wanted it gaudy, she
wanted it gay," explains Rene. "She thought the British housewives deserved more
colour in their lives."
So with pieces of Clarice Cliff’s, fetching anywhere
up to £20,000, what would this local girl from Stoke think of it all? Maybe Rene
can answer that:
"If Clarice knew what was going on now, she’d
dig a hole and get into it. She wouldn’t have liked all this fuss."