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Posts from the ‘United Kingdom’ Category

Denby “Trees”, Diana Woodcock-Beckering

Denby Trees c1970.

It would be hard to find a design that screams the 1970s more than this bold and colourful design. It has influences of Pop-Art, Psychedelic Art and the bold and colourful Graphic Design of this era. The design consists of black silhouetted trees set against an op-art style dot pattern sky in white on purple with rolling hills in green, orange and ochres. These colours (and the style of graphic) defined the look of so much design in the 1970s – but you dont often see the colour combination on dinnerware. 

The shapes the design is placed on you may recognise immediately as the forms Gill Pemberton designed for Denby “Chevron” in the 1960s. The “Trees” design was placed on all of the forms of Chevron including the steel handled teapot, coffee pots, lidded forms, bowls, plates and dishes. 

The design of Trees is by Diana Woodcock-Beckering who was trained at the Croydon College of Art and Design in 1962, which led to a Diploma at Loughborough College, before post graduate MA qualifications at the Royal College of Art, London starting in 1966.

Diana worked as a freelancer at Denby between 1969-1971, and after her time at Denby, Diana (now Diana Worthy) went on to set up Crich Pottery in Derbyshire in 1972 with her husband. 

There is so much to Diana than her “Trees” design for Denby though, in both her training & education and later work. 

I found a very thorough and well written 2001 article on the studio work of Diana HERE , which also has a good variety of images clearly showing the style Diana developed. Diana’s achievements during her study and post graduate study were quite stellar – from the article linked is this quote: 

“Diana could usually be found in college (Royal College of Art) at all hours, seven days a week. There she met Hans Coper, David Queensberry and Eduardo Paulozzi. Diana won the RCA prize for drawing and also the Frank Denning Memorial Award to study designs in Scandinavia. Her final degree show M (Design) RCA resulted in offers of freelance pottery designing for Kilkenny Design workshops and for Denby Pottery in Derbyshire. She also took a full time lecturing post at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in the Faculty of three-dimensional design” 

Denby Trees

Denby Trees – Photo Ray Garrod

Denby Trees

Denby Trees – Photo Ray Garrod

Denby Trees

Denby Trees – Photo Ray Garrod

 

Denby Trees

Denby Trees – Pinterest

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Ondine Design – Gerald Benney for Ridgway Potteries 1965

Gerald Benney (1930-2008) is well known as a very important 20th Century Silversmith in both the specialist and mass markets where his attractive “bark finish” became a signature style. You can read more about his work in his Obituary in the Guardian HERE. 

His work in Ceramics is less known and documented – and the only confirmed record of ceramics he designed I can find is for Ridgway Potteries in 1965 when he designed the Ridgway “Ondine” series on a form which he also designed, called “Albion”.

There are some other designs which appear to be from his hand, but I am yet to confirm he is the designer.

“Ondine” hits the perfect balance between form and decoration on his very elegant modernist forms – which have a strong Scandinavian influence. Many of Benney’s designs have that Scandinavian look about them – possibly an influence from his early in career work with Norwegian designer Berger Bergersen, and the influence of Georg Jensen designs.

The pattern on his Ondine design makes me think immediately of the tines of his designs for forks – see the image below the teapot. The very smart “Albion” form on which Ondine sits also has similarities to his wonderful silverware coffee set “Elizabeth II” (also pictured below) – specifically the form of the handle and the spout. The “flat” lid and generous handle shape is something he used often on his silverware designs.

I love the simplicity of the Ondine design which is at the same time very sophisticated and elegant – alternating blue and green panels, outlined with a black maze like pattern, wrapped perfectly around the form on which it sits.

The V&A Museum in its online collections has some fabulous examples of Benney’s work, including a fascinating design for a silver coffee pot design very similar in shape to the teapot design pictured here. They also outline how Benney’s now iconic “tree bark” finish was developed:

“His signature textured tree-bark finish was developed by accident. While hand-raising the bowl of a cup he unintentionally used a silver hammer with a damaged head. After hitting the smooth surface of the silver several times with the hammer he created a pleasing ribbed and rippled surface that resembled the bark of a tree. As well as being aesthetically pleasing this textured surface also had a practical advantage; it prevented fingermarks and tarnishing” 

 

Ridgway Ondine Teapot - Gerald Benney 1965

Ridgway Ondine Teapot – Gerald Benney 1965 – Photo Ray Garrod

Ridgway Ondine Teapot - Gerald Benney 1965

Ridgway Ondine Teapot – Gerald Benney 1965 – Photo Ray Garrod

 

Ridgway Ondine Tea Cups

Ridgway Ondine Tea Cups photo via Greysgiftsandgarbage Etsy.

Gerald Benney Stainless Steel Forks

Gerald Benney Stainless Steel Forks photo via lemmingsalmon etsy

Gerald Benney ELIZABETH II Coffee Service. Image via Live Auctioneers.

Gerald Benney ELIZABETH II Coffee Service. Image via Live Auctioneers.

Ridgway Ondine Sauce Boat

Ridgway Ondine Sauce Boat – photo via mrmod.co.nz

 

Susie Cooper ‘Cornpoppy’

Susie Cooper (1902-1995) was one of the most prolific and talented ceramic designers of the 20th Century….. if not THE top designer of ceramics in the 20th Century. I have several entries on this website with my favourite Susie Cooper patterns.

Susie Cooper’s career spans over 7 decades from when she founded the Susie Cooper Pottery in 1929 until the late 1980s. I’ve never come across a design by her which I don’t admire. I especially like her Art Deco era pieces, but it is also her 1960s and 1970s designs which stand out from the crowd.

Her patterns are always beautifully balanced, with an exquisite attention to detail which many designers neglect. She also knew the importance of the clay body and form on which the design was put, and stated in the 1950s that “The beauty and translucency of china should speak for itself and not be overburdened by pattern” – I think that this view is demonstrated in one of her stand out 1970s designs – “Cornpoppy” (1971) from her Wedgwood period.

There is a complex depth of colour and texture in the orange and red of the poppy, and the black flowing lines contrasted against the bright white clay body remind me of the beauty of Japanese and Chinese calligraphy.

In the very thoroughly researched and written book “Susie Cooper, A Pioneer of Modern Design” by Andrew Casey & Ann Eatwell, about “Cornpoppy” they write:

“The pattern, almost oriental in the stark contrast between the scarlet poppy and touches of black against the white bone china, demonstrates …her claim that a well designed article of pottery contributes to the interior design of the home. It is impossible not to sense the joy of the artist in this floral motif with its flowing lines and vibrant colour, unrestrained by the rimless coupe shape…..of course Susie Cooper had always been famous for her depiction of flora, but this was quite a departure from the combination of gentle pastel colours and creamy earthenware body of the 1930s. 

Here are a few pieces of Cornpoppy I have had hold of recently:

 

Susie Cooper Cornpoppy

Susie Cooper Cornpoppy – Photo Ray Garrod

Susie Cooper Cornpoppy

Susie Cooper Cornpoppy – Photo Ray Garrod

Susie Cooper Cornpoppy

Susie Cooper Cornpoppy – Photo Ray Garrod

Susie Cooper Cornpoppy

Susie Cooper Cornpoppy – Photo Ray Garrod

Susie Cooper Cornpoppy

Susie Cooper Cornpoppy – Photo Ray Garrod