Clarice Cliff – A Colorful Life

By Louise Irvine

The life of Clarice Cliff, the celebrated Art Deco ceramic designer, is being brought to the big screen by Phoebe Dynevor, who shot to fame in the Netflix smash hit, Bridgerton. The Colour Room is described as “the journey of a determined, working-class woman as she breaks the glass ceiling and revolutionizes the workplace in the 20th century.” The movie is set in the industrial British midlands of the 1920s and was filmed in Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent, the heart of the British pottery industry, where Clarice Cliff’s “rags to riches’ career unfolded.

Colley Shorter, the owner of A. J. Wilkinson’s Newport Pottery, fell in love with Clarice’s work and passion and encouraged her ambitions and aspirations. Clarice’s unprecedented Bizarre ware, launched in 1927, enlivened drab and dreary British homes between the wars. Her vivacious spirit and innovative designs ensured the survival of the Wilkinson factory through the Great Depression and she became known as the "Sunshine Girl" during the Art Deco era.

The Gladstone Pottery Museum, renowned for its surviving bottle ovens, was one of the film locations for The Colour Room. Even the smoke from the chimneys is picturesque in this feelgood period drama! Phoebe Dynevor dazzles as we watch Clarice’s wardrobe transformation from a dowdy green cardigan, brown knee-high socks and brogues to a Parisian artist’s smock with floppy bow tie and beret. Matthew Goode from Downton Abbey plays Colley Shorter, the factory owner who recognizes her talent.

The Colour Room was released in the UK by Sky Cinema and you can see the trailer here. It is now streaming on Amazon Freevee in the USA. You can also hear more about the importance of women in the British pottery industry in the documentary film Bound by Clay on YouTube.

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The Colour Room production videos