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.
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.
Ceramics, Painting, Illustration. Multi-media
Assistant David Eeles, workshop assistant.
Cameron and Lewis, Potters on Pottery,
2001 Seeing drawing London institute
(The teapots feature in most collections,
these are just some)
(these are major commissions involving
over 100 pieces each for selected clients)
1997 Breeze in the Willows. written by Allen Johnson Jnr. Ten Speed Press Berkely. California US.
Lecturer in Studio Ceramics at FSAD.1989-2000
Tile walls for the Hydrotherapy pool room at the new Bristol Children's Hospital.
Artist in residence