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: