Clarice Cliff by Lynn Knight; Comprehensively Clarice Cliff by Greg Slater with Jonathan Brough (ed) - review by Jessica Mann

Jessica Mann

From Drab Poverty to Colourful Pottery

Clarice Cliff


Bloomsbury 328pp £20

Comprehensively Clarice Cliff


Thames & Hudson 448pp £48

Clarice Cliff's story could have come straight from the pages of a blockbuster. She went from factory girl to flapper, from rags to riches, and from a life of drudgery to fame and fortune. Lynn Knight's biography concentrates on Cliff herself, while Slater and Brough also discuss wares designed by her colleagues at the Wilkinson pottery in Stoke-on-Trent. Many readers' first reaction to these informative and interesting volumes will be remorse. I shudder to think how much 'Thirties tat' sent to charity shops or simply chucked away might well have been by Clarice Cliff. Examples of her work now fetch four-figure sums.

Her chunky, solid plates, cups, jugs and ornaments were the melamine or plastic of the jazz age, designed to bring cheap and cheerful colour to the drab masses. Cliff's unsophisticated decorations in Art Deco style and poster-paint colours seemed dramatic and even revolutionary when the first collection of ceramics was

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