Colin Melbourne (1928-2009) ranks highly along with the best of British Ceramic Designers of the 20th Century. It seems surprising that his work is not more widely known and appreciated outside the U.K, but many of his designs seemed to be ahead of their time.
The vase below I came across late last year is from Melbourne’s “Petra” – a series of several different camouflage style patterns for Royal Norfolk, Staffordshire, c late 1950s.
Colin also produced a now very collectable series of animals for Beswick, another for Midwinter and one for Bossons. Colin also worked with David Queensberry on a series called “Drumlanrig Melbourne” with striking abstract patterns. You can see examples of most of these series on the UK website RetroSelect .
I think though, one of Melbourne’s most striking series was “Memphis”, for Crown Devon c1960.
The interesting excerpt below is from Colin Melbourne’s obituary in the “The Sentinel” Newspaper:
Originally trained as a modeller at Burslem School of Art, Mr Melbourne went on to become the Dean of the Faculty of Art and Design at North Staffordshire Polytechnic, and an influential figure in art education nationally.
Driven by the belief that art had a role to play in ordinary people’s lives, he showed through his own work how art could be relevant and make a difference in the real world.
Professor Flavia Swann, who worked under Mr Melbourne at North Staffordshire Polytechnic in the 1970s, said: “A lot of people at the polytechnic were from an engineering background and thought that art was a waste of time, that it didn’t get people jobs but Colin was very good at explaining the contribution art and design could make to society.
…and below another Petra design vase: