The long-awaited release date for The Colour Room, a feature film all about Clarice Cliff, was announced this month, with it set to hit our screens on 12th November. Starring Phoebe Dynevor of Bridgerton fame and directed by Claire McCarthy, the film will focus on Clarice Cliff who became a household name in the 1920s for her Art Deco-style ceramics.
Clarice Cliff was a trailblazer of the 1920s. She was an icon of Art Deco design and was a pioneer in her field. With a true working-class background, Cliff was sent to work in the potteries in her native Staffordshire at only age 13 but she quickly forged a career path, heading to the Wilkinson factory where she came under the focus of the head of the factory, Colley Shorter, who went on to send her to the Royal College of Art in London. She was given a studio of her own in 1927, where she would make her famous ‘Bizarre’ ceramics so highly prized by collectors today.
Moonflower pattern conical milk jug, a Bizarre conical bowl with a Secrets pattern and a Myott jug available at Cheffins' Art & Design Sale on 28th October, estimate £100 - £200
Clarice Cliff was an untiring talent; she created a stream of new designs which kept her at the forefront of the development of ceramics throughout the 1920s and 1930s. She was known to devise hundreds of different designs, with tens of thousands of pieces created throughout her career. Where she really stood out was that she devised things which were useful; vases, plates, candlesticks, tea sets, all with modernist shapes, bright colours and visible brushstrokes, with clear inspiration from the Cubist and De Stijl movements.
When looking to start a collection, there are patterns and shapes to suit most budgets. With their bold colours and geometric shapes, some of the rarest patterns include May Avenue, Bowling, Applique Lucerne and Tennis as well as the incredibly rare Age of Jazz figures. However, there are also opportunities here for those with less deep pockets, and patterns such as Crocus and Gay Day can present a more affordable option.
Blue Chintz, a Clarice Cliff Bizarre Conical tea set for two, available at Cheffins' Art & Design sale on 28th October, estimate £300 - £500
As Clarice Cliff items were created in high volumes and bought via mail order throughout the 1920s and 1930s, many of these can still be seen on kitchen dressers up and down the country with their owners not knowing their potential value. Indeed, prices are varied, with examples of the less popular and later patterns which were more mass-produced selling for a few tens or hundreds of pounds, whilst a rare piece from one of the more valuable patterns could easily make into the tens of thousands. The market for Clarice Cliff ceramics peaked in 1999 as it was her centenary year, since then prices have plateaued somewhat, however premiums are still being paid for the rarer pattern and shape combinations, and we would expect values to increase following the release of The Colour Room as the film has the potential to bring new collectors into the market. The current auction record for a Clarice Cliff work is £39,950, set at Christie’s in 2003, when a 1933 charger decorated in the ‘May Avenue’ pattern was sold from South Kensington.
Buyers for Clarice Cliff, private collectors in particular, are based around the world, with a handful of specialist dealers still active in the promotion of these wonderfully colourful wares. Famously Anna Wintour is a fan and has a large collection, as does Whoopi Goldberg.
Blue Chintz, a pair of Clarice Cliff Bizarre muffineer salt and pepper pots, available at Cheffins' Art & Design sale on 28th October, estimate £100 - £150
With her work instantly recognisable, Clarice Cliff is certainly one of the most famous ceramicists to have ever lived, and til this day her designs are in some of the most important institutions in the world, including the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
At the Cheffins Art & Design Sale on 28th October, we will be selling a handful of Clarice Cliff pieces, including a Conical tea set for two, in the Blue Chintz pattern, which has an estimate of £300 - £500 and pair of salt and pepper pots also with the Pastel Autumn pattern. Another lot also includes a Moonflower pattern conical milk jug, a Bizarre conical bowl with a Secrets pattern and a Myott jug.
To view the Clarice Cliff lots in the sale click here