Collection

'Focus' Bowl

Collection: When modernism goes bad

Category: Ceramics

Date: Circa 1964

Designer: Barbara Brown / Marquis of Queensberry

Nationality of Designer: British

Manufacturer: W.R Midwinter Ltd

Manufacturers Location: Staffordshire, England (U.K)

Material: Earthenware with printed overglaze decoration

Dimensions: Length 12.5 cm x Height 6 cm

Purchase Price: 99p

Abstract:

White bowl with printed geometrical design in brown, black and blue grey of squares and circles.

Provenance:

Purchased by Adam Sutherland on eBay

Adaptions/renovations:

None- good condition

Why it's in the Collection:

The bowl was designed by the Marquis of Queensberry and Barbara Brown for Midwinter. Queensberry was a descendant of 'Bosie', Oscar Wilde's lover. Oscar Wilde claimed to be a member of Ruskin's Road builders, 'The Diggers', several of whom were members of the Coefficients Dining Club.

In 1874, Ruskin proposed to a select group of Oxford undergraduates that they endeavour to build a flower bordered road between South and North Hinksey - to assist the two communities. The group we lampooned in the press and on campus, being nicknamed the 'Diggers'. Notable members of this group included, Arnold Toynbee (social reformer), Hardewick Rawnsley (co-founder of the National Trust - lifelong Ruskin interpreter), Alfred Milner (economist and member of the Coefficents) William Powell (Whitefriars glassworks and model village) and Oscar Wilde (a lifelong Ruskin fan - but possibly just for the day). The road was not completed as the work was interrupted by the holidays, the villages of North and South Hinksey remain unconnected but an allegory exists.

About the Designer/Maker:

Textile Designer, Barbara Brown (1939-) began supplying designs to Midwinter in 1958 soon after completing her studies at the Royal College of Art. She taught printed textiles at Medway College and Zandra Rhodes was among her students.

David Douglas 12th Marquis of Queensberry (1929-) is one of the U.K's leading ceramicists. He learnt his trade in Stoke - on -Trent in the mid-50s and has been a Professor of Ceramics at The Royal College of Art. Working in partnership with Martin Hunt, his business partner of 40 years, they built up a steady client list including the most important ceramic manufacturers such as; Wedgewood, Midwinter, Hornsea Pottery and Royal Doulton.

About the Manufacturer:

The Midwinter Pottery firm was founded in 1910 in Burslem, Staffordshire by William Robinson Midwinter.

During the immediate post war period, pottery firms like Midwinter took time to re-establish themselves financially and creatively. When Roy Midwinter took over the business in the 1950s he revolutionized British tableware with new, innovative designs from young up and coming ceramicists and designers. Among these were Marquis of Queensberry, Terence Conran, Hugh Casson, Barbara Brown and considered to be the most important of the new designers, Jessie Tait, who eventually became their in-house designer.

During the 1950s Midwinter was one of the leading mass- producers of affordable, stylish tableware. Production was aimed at the younger market and fashionable modern shapes and patterns were introduced that distanced themselves from the post war austerity. Chintsy florals and fussy patterns were out, sleek and stylish design in.

The company built a successful international reputation at this time and the theme of new, young and vibrant design continued through the 1950s and into the 60s. The company went from strength to strength with Op Art, Geometrical Shapes, Flower-Power and Psychedelic patterns dominating its designs. Unfortunately due to financial pressures Midwinter was taken over by J & G Meakin in 1968, and then Wedgewood in 1970. However, pottery was still produced under the Midwinter name until 1987.

Bibliography & Further information

David Queensberry