Bizarre Art Deco China

Clarice Cliff Pottery


When you think about art deco china, chances are that the name Clarice Cliff will be one of the first to spring to mind. Cliff brought something brand new to the dinner table that had become way too dour. Her ground breaking British-made pottery designs from the 1930s were astonishingly colourful.



When she was just 14, Cliff went to work as a painter for a local pottery in England. In 1916, she joined the firm of A. J. Wilkinson and remained there for the rest of her life. Cliff married the owner of the firm, Colley Shorter and after his death in 1963 sold the factory and retired to her home in Newcastle. She died in 1972.


It is important to remember that Cliff only produced wares for A. J. Wilkinson's and its subsidiary Newport Pottery. Later pieces are often marked Royal Staffordshire Pottery. Midwinter and Wedgwood also produced some legitimate reproductions.


"Having a little fun at my work does not make me any less of an artist," Cliff said. "People who appreciate truly beautiful and original creations in pottery are not frightened by a little innocent tomfoolery." Cliff was heralded for brightening up the world of the bored housewife and during an era of economic hardship, her business thrived.


One reason why Clarice Cliff pottery has been so attractive to collectors is that there is enough of it around to make it available to a large collecting base but not so much as to render it ubiquitous.

And as some ranges and patterns were produced in much smaller quantities than others, that lends the ceramics a definite price structure. 

Buyers are predominantly British or from the Commonwealth countries where Clarice Cliff was exported in the inter-War years (Bizarre and Fantasqueware was sold throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, but not in mainland Europe). 

There are still collectors with strong collecting pockets in Australia and Canada.

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