Friday, 2 November 2012

Society of Staffordshire Artists and the Pottery Industry

On October 9th I submitted 5 paintings to the Society of Staffordshire Artists adjudication panel for consideration for full membership and was delighted to receive a letter last week informing me that I had been successful.

Freesia watercolour. One of the paintings submitted to SSA for membership.
The SSA has been established for 80 years and has had some notable members and exhibitors since that time, including many that were also employees in the pottery industry. For me this is of interest because that's where I started out.  Past members include Minton's designer Reginald George Haggar RI,   Gordon Mitchell Forsyth RI , Leslie Gilbert RI and Arnold Machin RA, who is best known as the man who sculpted the relief portrait of the Queen used of the first decimal coins and on stamps, the portrait is said to be the most reproduced image ever printed! So I'm pretty pleased to be included.

I've seen many paintings of industrial scenes of the Potteries over the years but oddly enough I appear to be the only current flower painter in the Society and I don't see many in galleries either, which came as a surprise given the tradition of floral painting within the pottery industry. Both my mother and grandmother had worked as paintresses, and I worked as a design technician in the Royal Albert division of Royal Doulton in the 1980's. Having that background in the family meant that painting was always considered a completely 'normal' activity at home. I can recall my grandmother showing me how to paint the freehand floral designs of a Hollyhock pattern that she had painted at work when she was a young woman who worked at at E Brains China.

Sadly the Staffordshire Pottery industry has declined significantly in recent years,  largely due to the changing market, small producers were consumed by larger companies and much of the production was then outsourced to the middle east in the 1990's. It was no real surprise that the appeal of the product and emphasis on local skills was lost and along with it jobs.
Fortunately today there seems to be a glimmer of hope for the craftsmanship and bringing production back to the Potteries.
Funny how things come around as you get older,  I'd never really had much of an interest in the history of the pottery industry, in fact I couldn't wait to get away from Stoke and thought it the most grim of places when I left.


  1. Congratulations Dianne and beautiful Freesia painting :)x

  2. Yes, well done!! They are lucky to have you! xShevaun

  3. As an old Staffordshire person who knew Reginald Haggar and studied Gordon Forsyth I was thrilled to see the Society Staffordshire Artists is sill strong with young talents like you joining.

    1. Hi Pat, That's so interesting to know you have these connections and yes SSA is definitely still going strong! I'm just discovering all of this after years away living in Scotland. I know the society have a book with info on past members which I'm looking forward to reading shortly. Thanks Dianne

  4. Congratulations, Dianne! Wonderful that you have such a long history with the industry. Lovely freesia painting.

  5. Congratulations on your membership ! The Freesias are beautiful, one of m favorite the smell .