Circus Cavalcade

Ceramic Art of Michele Coxon -

This monkey bareback rider in Circus Cavalcade is making visitors smile in the Carnival & Cabaret exhibition. The artist, Michele Coxon, is one of Britain’s best loved children’s illustrators and her books, featuring fluffy kittens and cute puppies, have sold over a million copies worldwide. She has drawn and painted since childhood but she didn’t begin working with ceramics until later in her career.

Michele’s early stories developed from ideas her cats gave her. She explained how her first best-seller The Cat Who Lost His Purr was born in 1991. "I started writing children's stories after I picked up my cat and there was silence! My cat normally purrs like a pneumatic drill and that day there was nothing. My children were there and I asked them if they had the cat's purr.”

After writing and illustrating 16 books, Michele studied sculpture at Shrewsbury College, and learned techniques with metal, textiles and ceramics. She described the experience, “After years of working with a 00 brush, and confined to a tight chocolate-box subject, it was like releasing another person – a rush of creative energy.” She won the Victoria and Albert Museum Prize for glass and ceramics in 1999. Her theatrical tableaux are unique, hand-built clay models which resemble Staffordshire flatback figure groups from the 18th century. Michele’s Circus sculpture is reminiscent also of Dame Laura Knight’s paintings of Big Top entertainers from the 1930s and the ceramic tableaux of Charles Vyse.

The Wiener Museum boasts several of Michele’s ceramic creations, two of which feature apes and monkeys in human situations, including the Jungle Tea Party on display in the Art of Tea exhibit and the Madonna of the Jungle. Michele’s success as a children’s book illustrator was recognized with the silver Benjamin Franklin Book Award in 2009. Her most recent book One Wet, Worried White Rabbit tells the story of a bunny who goes white water rafting and is rescued by a witch. The ceramic sculpture inspired by this story is a recent acquisition at WMODA.

Related pages...
Monkey Business, Monkeys in Ceramic Art

Carnival & Cabaret Exhibit