The British ceramics industry has been a major employer of women for centuries. Initially they worked as menial assistants to men but gradually some were recognized as artists and designers. Two of the most famous design divas of the Art Deco era were celebrated in the recent WMODA lecture on Flappers, Vamps & Divas. Clarice Cliff, who created Bizarre Ware, and Daisy-Makeig Jones, the designer of Wedgwood’s Fairyland Lustre, worked with talented teams of female decorators to produce their ceramic art. Come and see their work as well as all the other exceptional women artists represented at WMODA.
Women of Wedgwood
Wedgwood has a long history of working with artistic women. In the 18th century, Josiah Wedgwood commissioned Jasper Ware ornaments from aristocratic ladies, such as Elizabeth, Lady Templetown who supplied charming domestic scenes to decorate vases and plaques.
Women of Doulton
Henry Doulton became a pioneer of women’s liberation by providing hundreds of jobs for aspiring young artists at his Lambeth Studio in London. The Barlow sisters, Hannah and Florence, were celebrated in Victorian women’s magazines for their unique work in Doulton Stoneware. Ladies of leisure were inspired to take up pottery painting at home and Miss Florence Lewis wrote the first guidebook on the subject. Miss Lewis was also responsible for the massive Doulton Faience vase which greets visitors on arrival at WMODA.
Women of Stoke-on-Trent
In the potteries of Stoke-on-Trent, women worked as decorators of tableware and ornamental vases and many attended evening classes at the local art schools to hone their skills. By the early 20th century, some exceptional women were making a name for themselves as ceramic designers, notably Daisy Makeig-Jones at Wedgwood and Clarice Cliff at Wilkinson’s.
Women of Moorcroft
Today, the Moorcroft Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent is managed by a woman, Elyse Adams. All the Moorcroft designers are women as well as most of the tube-liners and painters. They continue the tradition of making beautiful hand-painted art pottery begun by William Moorcroft in 1897.
Women of Ardmore Studio
At the Ardmore Studio in South Africa, Fée Halsted has empowered local women by teaching them how to paint ceramic art and their exceptional work has uplifted their rural community. In 2010, Fée was honored by Women’s Campaign International for her philanthropy and making a difference in the lives of women.