Clarice Cliff

Probably the most famous Art Deco ceramics designer in the world is Clarice Cliff from Staffordshire in the North of England. Most people have heard the name and associate the style with bold and bright geometric designs.

Clarice Cliff was born in 1899 in Tunstall in Stoke-on-Trent and went on to study at the Burslem School of Art. A year later she attended the Royal College of Art. At the age of seventeen the Staffordshire pottery of A.J. Wilkinson & Co. employed Clarice as an apprentice and by the nineteen twenties became involved with the decoration of ‘Tibetan’ ware – large jars painted with gilt and bright colours. However it was Clarice’s design range of ‘Bizarre’ ware that popularised her as a designer which she developed using her own initiative for a 1928 trade fair. Bizarre wass an instant hit and Wilkinson’s factory, by the following year, became dedicated to its production. The application of bright colour and geometric design and shape typified the markedly Art Deco form.

Additional ranges including Farmhouse, Fantasque and Biarritz followed plus a wide range of wares designed in a crocus pattern which was to become Clarice’s trademark design. The application of floral imagery, geometric designs and surreal landscapes were used to decorate a wide range of wares which were typically purchased as gift items by the general public. Clarice married Coley Shorter, the boss of Wilkinson’s and after his death in 1963 sold out to Midwinter. Examples of the work of Clarice Cliff can sell for high prices tiday, especially those displaying bright geometric pattern and shape.

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