In 1920, soon after A J Wilkinson Ltd opened Newport Pottery in Newport Lane, Burslem, Staffordshire, Clarice Cliff went there as a decorator. Born in 1899, she started work in 1912 and had been working for A J Wilkinson, who were the proprietors of Royal Staffordshire Pottery, for four years when she went to the Newport works.
In 1927 she set up a studio at Newport and the distinctive Clarice Cliff style soon developed. Colley Shorter, Wilkinson's managing director and Clarice Cliff's future husband, conducted very successful market tests in the late 1920s, and the range was launched under his chosen name of 'Bizarre Ware' in 1930.
During the first half of the decade Bizarre was made in an ever increasing range of designs and shapes, and the demand was hard to satisfy. In the mid-1930s the Bizarre name - 'Bizarre by Clarice Cliff, Newport Pottery, England' - gave way to just plain 'Clarice Cliff, Newport Pottery, England'. The Bizarre brand name had effectively been dropped. Perhaps it was thought that a range that had been so popular for half a decade could no longer be thought of as bizarre!
Production of all decorated wares stopped for the duration of the war, and when it resumed the momentum had been lost. In 1963 shortly after the death of her husband Clarice Cliff retired and the factories were sold to Midwinter. She died at the age of seventy-three.
|Clarice Cliff by Leonard Griffin, et al|
|The Fantastic Flowers of Clarice Cliff by Leonard Griffin|
|The Shorter Connection: A.J. Wilkinson, Clarice Cliff, Crown Devon by Irene Hopwood, Gordon Hopwood|
|The Art of Bizarre by Leonard Griffin|