Roger Michell - some biographical details

Roger Michell is possibly best known for his numerous and many humorous designs for Carltonware in the 1970s and early 1980s. Most notable was the endearing and ever popular range of "Walking Ware" which he first designed in his own Lustre Pottery with Danka Napiorkowska in the early 1970s and which then shortly after was produced by Carltonware into the 1980s and carried both potteries' backstamps.This range has since been increased with the addition of some further small limited editions of novelty teapots (see items 133 and 136) which were designed and made by Roger Michell at his Lustre Pottery and decorated by Danka Napiorkowska.

For those interested collectors and researchers, Roger has kindly supplied below some further details concerning his ethos, training, other works (public and private), exhibitions, illustrations and reference literature.

Roger Michell Statement

If you ask me to make a statement, I will almost surely say a different thing on any different day, so this is what I say today.

I have done it all my life. Although I first fell in love with the world of studio pottery in the early sixties when Bernard Leach was king and all lived fair and true in the land, this was but an adolescent's affair with the first world of grown men which, at the age of fifteen I was invited to take part almost as an equal. It was, more conversion into a church than a career move.

But it wasn't until after a trip through education, (aborted), the high art of Anthony Caro and the very low art of zoo artist that I fell, as if by a magical chance, into the last decade of the tradition of English Staffordshire craft and trade factories. It was at the time when Modernism fell and Post modernism rose.

The tradition of English Staffordshire craft and trade factories was dying, nobody knew then how fast is was to go, ten years later it was gone. But that ten years was romantic and utopian. A discovery, and I now realise, a privilege afforded perhaps only once to any human in any life-time.

Those last ten years were recorded and re-invented only in the strange world of collectables.

I don't belong to the contempory Art Ceramic tradition that prevails today. If I examine my feeling for this world it is sorrow. It is a world made by experts, opinion formers perhaps no more than fifty, who write history without regard for popular response, who build self-concious narratives never tested on any true audience. It seems to me hollow.

After the world of craft factories died so suddenly and completely in the scrabble of the new economic template of such concepts as the 'bottom line' and infinite gains in productivity, (... how can you explain that doing work slowly is tantric and transcendental, that these ideas only have meaning when the truly integrated ones have been destroyed) I continued much as if they hadn't. In the rise of the 'decorative' gallery-ceramics of the eighties there was a cross-over between my world and the new one, the difference though was skill. Much of the decorative ceramics made and sold then relied on evoking the values of early modernist painting where spontaneity and creativity ruled, but alas not skill. What worked in painting in another era seemed to me to fail now, it was clumsey. This of course was the point, but it wasn't my point. I was welcome in that world but it wasn't home.

Later I was able to make dinner services for well off clients, anachronistic and magnificent follies, they are incarcerated in the homes they were made for. They are safe there, hidden from view.

I have completed two large commissions, both for hospitals, very refreshing of which I am proud, it is interesting to see the gap between intention by the maker and reception by the viewer, it's curiously humbling, puts the activity in perspective.

The ceramics you see on my web-site ( and some on this site ) comes from the bearer of this biography, I am gratefully and firmly positioned in this experience and as I said it is a privilege bestowed only once to any human being in a lifetime so I hope you will look kindly at the work.

Re-invention though is how we adapt, I have chosen to leave the ceramics alone but look (if it is there yet, I am making my site and haven't as I write completed these sections) at the painting, drawing and multimedia for different worlds.

That's the statement, I hope I have given you the respect not to flannel you with meaningless art-sell and it's what I say today. Ask me again tomorrow.

Born 1947 Guildford, Surrey

Crafts Council Listing

Index of selected makers.

Work made

Ceramics, Painting, Illustration. Multi-media


Assistant David Eeles, workshop assistant.
Central School of Art and Design,1963-6.
Anthony Caro, workshop assistant.
Flamingo Park Zoo, zoo artist.

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Cameron and Lewis, Potters on Pottery, Evans,1976.
Decorative Pottery, Black, 1985.
Pottery Techniques, Ken Clark 1982 .
Novelty Teapots - Five Hundred Years of Art and Design by Edward Bramah. 1992
Many other teapot reference books and magazine articles, adverts and television.

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Exhibitions these are some

2001 Seeing drawing London institute
1998 "Melt Down" Victoria & Albert Museum.
1997 "Hit and Run" Victoria & Albert Exhibition
1996 Touch and Go. Victoria & Albert Museum.
1995 Juliet Gould Gallery.
1994 Juliet Gould Gallery.
1993 Richard Dennis and Friends, Chelsea Town Hall.
1993 Mid-Cornwall Gallery
1992 Mid Cornwall Gallery
1992 Medici Gallery, London.
1991 With Anne Hogg, Mid Cornwall Gallery.
1991 Beside the Wave. Falmouth.
1991 Decorated Ceramics, Gallery at Wyeside, Builth Wells.
1989 Group Exhibition, Medici Gallery London.
1985-88 Direct Design Shows No. 1-7.
1984 Concorso Internationale della Ceramica, Museo Internationale della Ceramica, Faenza, Italy.
1983 Makers 83, Crafts Centre Covent Garden.
1982 10th Chinuci International Exhibition of Cermamic Art Nagoya Town Hall, Japan.
1982 Big Pots Craft Centre London
1982 Christmas Show, Crafts Centre, Covent Garden.
1981 Concorso Internationale della ceramica , Museo Internationale della Ceramica, Faenza, Italy.
1981 Cinuchi Shimbam Nagoya Town Hall, Japan.
1977 "Say When". Victoria & Albert Museum.
1977 Apres LÕhumeur Axis Gallery, Paris.
1976 Potters on Pottery, Casson Gallery, London
1975 New Work, Strangways, London.
1974 One for the Pot. Wolverhamton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton.
1973 "Craftsman's Art" Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

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(The teapots feature in most collections, these are just some)
Victoria & Albert Museum,
Glasgow Museum,
Stoke on Trent Museum.
Tea and Coffee Museum (London)

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Dinner Services,

(these are major commissions involving over 100 pieces each for selected clients)
Dr. Warren and Ruth Grant, Insect Theme.
Dr, and Mrs. Hassan. Mythology, food and the underworld.
Sarah Alexander. Astrological.

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Illustrated Books.

1997 Breeze in the Willows. written by Allen Johnson Jnr. Ten Speed Press Berkely. California US.

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Educational work

Lecturer in Studio Ceramics at FSAD.1989-2000
Lecturer in information technology at FSAD 1998-2000
Multimedia Content provider for drawing in education DVD for London Institute published as "Seeing drawing"

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Public Art

Tile walls for the Hydrotherapy pool room at the new Bristol Children's Hospital.

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Artist in residence

Bodmin Hospital
West Cornwall Mental Facility
Interagency Young Peoples Support unit, Cornwall.

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