Jessie Tait Midwinter Pottery
Jessie Tait, who has died of cancer aged 81, created some of the best known and most innovative ceramic designs of the 1950s. The work she made as chief designer of Midwinter Pottery was characteristic of its time: cheerily and wittily modernist, exuberantly abstract and imbued with the forward-looking visual style of the Festival of Britain.
A turning point came when Roy Midwinter, the son of the boss, William, took a research trip to the west coast of America, where he observed the sales success of the new, fluid, modern forms by designers such as Eva Zeisel. Chintzy patterns and fussy florals were on the wane. The public wanted something more streamlined, stylish and in keeping with the fresh looks emerging in furniture and fabric design.
Roy designed a new set of shapes, called Stylecraft, with television-screen-shaped plates and neat, unfussy cups. The range was launched in 1953. Tait took to the new look immediately, creating such patterns as Homeweave, an all-over design resembling a gingham tablecloth laid over the ware, and Primavera, with an exuberant design of abstracted florals. Red Domino, its red rim dotted with white, became one of the most recognisable pottery designs of the 1950s. Innovative abstract designs included Fantasy, which had a central design of swirling lines and spirals recalling motifs by Joan Miró against a grey cross-hatched ground.
Homeweave, top right Primavera, bottom right
I can hardly contain my excitement! Is this the origin of my polka dot obsession? I see another collection on the horizon. Cath Kidston eat your heart out.
The next year a yet more radical shape, called Fashion, was introduced by Roy – it dispensed with the rather nugatory rim on the Stylecraft plate and was even more neat and streamlined. Tait’s skill at finding just the right design motif for a particular shape could now flourish – despite her initial fears that the new shape might be too radical.
Festival nodded to the Festival of Britain, its all-over design reminiscent of cells seen under a microscope; Flower Mist is a neat, simple floral design recalling the textile designs of Lucienne Day. Zambesi is one of Tait’s most striking designs of the period: a chic zebra-stripe that on some shapes was enlivened by a splash of red.
Lucienne Day, who has died aged 93, was the foremost British textile designer of her period. Day’s furnishing fabrics, of which the most famous was the Festival of Britain abstract pattern Calyx, hung in every “contemporary” living room in Britain. The reality of “art for the people”, dreamed about by the Victorian William Morris, was finally achieved by a female designer in the middle of the 20th century.
Lucienne drew on the English tradition of patterns based on plant forms that went back as far as Morris. She took motifs drawn from nature – flowers, grasses, shoots, the intricate patterns of the landscape – and transformed them into something absolutely new. Part of their success was the implied message of regrowth and optimism for a Britain only just recovering from war.
She was also deeply influenced by European abstract painting. Her textiles speak the visual language of Kandinsky, Miró and Klee. It pleased her to think that people who could not afford to buy a painting for their living room could at least own a pair of abstract patterned curtains. Many of Day’s printed fabrics were made in long production runs, which kept the price affordable. She made the link between mass production and fine art.
Lucienne day Textiles
Calyx Lucienne Day
Tait continued to produce accomplished work for Midwinter on a range of new shapes introduced in the 1960s. The Fashion shape had begun to look outmoded: in its place came new, cylindrical forms with straight-sided cups. On the elegant, fine shape designed by the Marquess of Queensberry, Tait created chic striped patterns such as Mexicana and Sienna. Her Spanish Garden became a bestseller, its attractive design based on a pattern for a Liberty tie. Her last design for Midwinter was Nasturtium, a brightly orange floral pattern on the Stonehenge shape that was introduced in the 1970s – another range redolent of its time, it evoked a homespun, wholemeal feel.
Mexicana, Sienna, Spanish Garden, Nasturtium
Eva Striker Zeisel (born Éva Amália Striker, November 13, 1906 – December 30, 2011) was a Hungarian-born American industrial designerknown for her work with ceramics, primarily from the period after she migrated to the United States. Her forms are often abstractions of the natural world and human relationships. Work from throughout her prodigious career is included in important museum collections across the world. Zeisel declared herself a “maker of useful things”.
“Scuse my french but how bloomin’ amazing is this lady’s work?!!!!!!!!
I like this journey I am going on.
Wassily Kandinsky, c. 1913 or Earlier
|Born||Wassily Kandinsky Wassilyevich
16 December [ OS 4 December] 1866 Moscow , Russian Empire
|Died||13 December 1944 (aged 77) Neuilly-sur-Seine, France|
|Nationality||Russian, later French|
|Education||Academy of Fine Arts, Munich|
|Notable work||On White II, Der Blaue Reiter|
|Movement||Expressionism; abstract art|
Wassily Kandinsky Wassilyevich ( / k æ n d ɪ n s k and / ; Russian : Василий Васильевич Кандинский , Vasiliy Vasil’yevich Kandinskiy , pronounced [vasʲilʲɪj kɐndʲinskʲɪj] , December 16 [ OS 4 December] 1866 – 13 December 1944) was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting one of the first purely abstract works.  Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent His childhood in Odessa , where graduated at the Grekov Odessa Art school . He enrolled at the University of Moscow , Studying law and economics. Successful in-His profession was offered a professorship by (chair of Roman Law ) at the University of Dorpat -Kandinsky began painting studies (life-drawing, sketching and anatomy) at the age of 30.
Joan Miró, photo by Carl Van Vechten, June 1935
|Born||Joan Miró and Ferrà
20 April 1893 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
|Died||25 December 1983 (aged 90)
Palma, Majorca, Spain
|Education||School of Fine Arts of the Market, and School of Art Francesco Gali, Artistic Circle of St. Luke, 1907-1913|
|Known for||Painting, Sculpture, Mural andCeramics|
|Movement||Surrealism, Dada, Personal, Experimental|
|Spouse(s)||Pilar Juncosa Iglesias (1929-1983)|
|Awards||1954 Venice Biennale Grand Prize for Graphic Work,
1958 Guggenheim International Award,
1980 Gold Medal of Fine Arts, Spain
Joan Miró i Ferrà (Catalan: [ʒuˈan miˈɾo]; 20 April 1893 – 25 December 1983) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona. A museum dedicated to his work, the Fundació Joan Miró, was established in his native city of Barcelona in 1975, and another, the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, was established in his adoptive city of Palma de Mallorca in 1981.
Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride. In numerous interviews dating from the 1930s onwards, Miró expressed contempt for conventional painting methods as a way of supporting bourgeois society, and famously declared an “assassination of painting” in favour of upsetting the visual elements of established painting.
Paul Klee in 1911
|Born||18 December 1879
Münchenbuchsee near Bern,Switzerland
|Died||29 June 1940 (aged 60)
|Education||Academy of Fine Arts, Munich|
|Notable work||more than 10,000 paintings, drawings, and etchings, including Twittering Machine(1922), Fish Magic (1925),Viaducts Break Ranks (1937).|
Paul Klee (German: [paʊ̯l ˈkleː]; 18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940) was a Swiss-German painter. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually deeply explored color theory, writing about it extensively; his lectures Writings on Form and Design Theory (Schriften zur Form und Gestaltungslehre), published in English as the Paul Klee Notebooks, are held to be as important for modern art as Leonardo da Vinci‘s A Treatise on Painting for theRenaissance. He and his colleague, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, both taught at the Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture. His works reflect his dry humor and his sometimes childlike perspective, his personal moods and beliefs, and his musicality.