One of my favourite designs by Susie Cooper from the 1960s is Keystone, released around 1969.
It is based on the classical Greek Key motif, stylised and put to perfect use on Susie’s ‘can’ forms she developed in 1958 and which she bought with her to Wedgwood, where Susie worked from 1966 to 1980.
Several colour-ways were released in the design over time due to its popularity – but I think the black design is the most impressive. What I also love about this design is how the pure matt black contrasts against the glossy white glaze.
Black was the first release in this series, followed by Red, Green then Old Gold.
I think this design is just magic. It is appropriately named Magic City. The design was inspired by exotic middle eastern inspired domed buildings, and always reminds me of this time of year with a festive look about the design with its use of colour and line which hint of fireworks, Christmas lights etc, as well as the domed buildings of the Middle East.
It was designed by Susan William-Ellis at Portmeirion Pottery in 1966, and has become one of the great British classics of the era. The forms were used in several series which Susan designed around this time – and the shape was called “Serif”. Serif refers to the shape of the handle – and is a reference to how a serif is used in typography/calligraphy to add flare to the end of a corner.
The Serif series of shapes was originally used on the Cypher and Jupiter patterns with a raised relief finish, but it is Magic City which became the most commercially successful. Magic Garden is another lovely design on the Serif series of shapes.
Of interest – if you are in or visiting London 2019 – there is an exhibition/display in the ceramics room 146 “Portmeirion – Pottery Trendsetter” until Sunday 28th July
Portmeirion Magic City Tea Cup
Portmeirion Magic City Plate
Portmeirion Magic City Coffee Pot
I’ve never come across a dinnerware set quite like this one before – consisting of 2 very different styles and production techniques.
The maker is RIDGWAY (Staffordshire). The cups and bowls are hand thrown from a terracotta clay and glazed in a dark olive green matt glaze – A great shape too – they are wide at the bottom and narrower at the top.
They’re really quite chunky – and you would think they were handmade by a studio potter – except for the stamp on the bottom.
In almost complete contrast is the bone china plate-ware designed for this setting. It is bone china, with hand-painted greens and blues – but when its all together – the design simply works, with the green hues of the plate ware tying it all together. I think it is a fascinating experiment in tying together traditional plate ware design, with the developing “hand made” movement of the late 1960s.
The pattern is “ROMANY”. (not to be confused with Denby Romany and many other makers who used this name during the 1960’s)
The backstamp is from the 1960’s. Ridgway were quite a large group of Staffordshire Potteries produced many brands including – Colclough, Paladin, Portland, Adderley and Gainsborough potteries.
Of course Ridgway were also the producers of the now iconic “Homemaker” by Enid Seeney
Ridgway Romany back stamp