“British Art Deco Between The Wars” by Elizabeth Bodgan


Art Deco was an international style that dominated architecture, furniture and the decorative arts from about 1925 until the start of the Second World War in 1939. Art Deco was developing in France in the early part of the 20th century, culminating in the Great Exhibition in 1925 in Paris. It celebrated an optimistic modern world where new technology and machinery would enable artists, architects and designers to change the look of buildings, furniture and interiors, creating shapes that were “modern” but elegant and functional. It was influenced by Cubism, hard edged and geometric

After a general introduction to the world of Art Deco, Elisabeth Bogdan concentrated on British Art Deco ceramics between the Wars.

We think of the bright and sometimes gaudy colours and geometric forms of Clarice Cliff, whose name is well recognised by the British public, alongside Charlotte Rhead and Susie Cooper. However there are many other designers who produced wonderful ceramics for the large porcelain houses and our lecturer referred to their influence and contribution to British ceramics.

These included Eric Slater who as art director of Shelley porcelain designed the modern “vogue” shape in the 30’s, while Keith Murray who designed tableware for Wedgwood found that his clean and restrained style was an instant hit with the public. Equally successful for Wedgewood was the “Fairyland” lustre ware designed by Daisy Makeig-Jones which showed printed figures (often of elves and fairies) in scenes and landscapes. These were but a few of the important names of the day which Elizabeth spoke about while the accompanying slide presentation showed many fine examples of both the tableware and decorative ware by these famous designers and manufacturers of the day.

Art Deco fell out of fashion during the Second World War with the austerity of wartime but re-emerged in the late sixties and is still popular today for its vibrant colours and geometric designs.