A new movie about one of the world’s most famous, and influential, ceramic artists is being shot in Stoke-on-Trent & The Potteries – one year ahead of the 50th anniversary of her death.
A Sky Original movie, The Colour Room is based on the rise to fame of legendary ceramic artist Clarice Cliff, played by Phoebe Dynevor (Bridgerton) in the lead role, alongside Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game) as her husband, Colley Shorter.
Best known for her innovative, colour-rich designs, the name Clarice Cliff is synonymous not only with The Potteries, but also with Art Deco and geometric patterns, and she is now admired and collected the world over.
Premiering on Sky Cinema and streaming service NOW, later this year, the new movie follows Clarice’s journey to stardom in the area’s pottery industry in the 1920s, before she went on to become one of the most famous Art Deco designers in the world.
Currently being filmed on location in Stoke-On-Trent, where she was born and learned her trade – now often called the ‘world capital of ceramics’ – it’s the first major role for Phoebe since she shot to stardom in the worldwide Netflix hit, Bridgerton.
And fittingly, many of the locations being used reflect the streets and potteries that Clarice would have known as she worked her way up from humble beginnings to become a pioneering icon of ceramics, in what was very much a man’s world.
Today, visitors can still follow in her footsteps by visiting potteries almost unchanged since the 1800s, see world-class ceramic displays, and even have a go at pottery throwing themselves, at a host of attractions across Stoke-on Trent and The Potteries.
They will also be able to do a spot of ‘set-jetting’, combining a chance to learn more about the area’s rich pottery heritage along with visiting some of the key movie locations, including Stoke-on-Trent’s popular Gladstone Museum and Middleport Pottery.
Born on January 20, 1899, in one of the Potteries famous six towns, Tunstall, Clarice started work in the pottery industry at the age of 13, but also studied art and sculpture at the Burslem School of Art in the evenings.
Ambitious, creative and hugely talented, Clarice frequently moved from factory to factory and as someone who took risks, she eventually impressed factory owner Colley Shorter (played by Matthew Goode), before becoming apprentice to renowned art designer Fred Ridgeway (played by David Morrissey).
Her hard work and talent led to her designing the famous Art Deco ‘Bizarre’ range, with the support of Colley and the other women in the factory, who were famously nicknamed “The Bizarre Girls”. Credited with helping the factory survive The Great Depression, her success and striking designs turned her into a household name, with her work now hugely collectable.
While preparing for their roles in the new movie, Phoebe and co-star Matthew Goode turned their hand to pottery throwing by getting in a little practice at world famous Wedgwood Factory, at Barlaston, Stoke.
Now a world class visitor attraction, The World of Wedgwood celebrates the very best of British craftsmanship and features shopping, food, visitor tours and art and craft workshops. It is also home to the V&A Wedgwood Collection, exploring 260 years of ground-breaking design and production with over 3,500 objects on display, and revealing more about Josiah Wedgwood’s lasting influence on industry and society (www.worldofwedgwood.com).
Visitors can follow a Clarice Cliff Trail at the Gladstone Pottery Museum – VisitEngland’s Small Visitor Attraction of the Year 2020 – to find the art deco plates hiding around the site, with a free gift and entry into a prize draw for everyone who takes part. The Museum is the only complete Victorian pottery factory from the days when coal burning ovens made the world’s finest bone china (https://bit.ly/2SEEmX1).
And among the new wave of ceramic designers who make their home in The Potteries is Emma Bailey. Born and bred in Stoke-on-Trent, her work is steeped in the heritage of the ‘Potteries’ and inspired by Cliff (www.emmabaileyceramics.co.uk).
For more information on Stoke-on-Trent as a destination, see www.visitstoke.co.uk
Photos: Courtesy of Sky Originals.
Phoebe Dynevor and Matthew Goode preparing for their roles in The Colour Room