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THE CIRCUS DINNER SERVICE BY CLARICE CLIFF (1899-1972)
Clarice Cliff was a leading Twentieth Century British ceramic designer. She worked at the Wilkinson and Newport potteries in Stoke-on-Trent from the 1920s. In 1934, she was involved in a campaign to improve and promote British design in industry. Twenty-four designers were commissioned to produce designs for her and these included Dame Laura Knight, as well as other notable artists such as Graham Sutherland, John Nash, Frank Brangwyn and Ben Nicholson. Dame Laura Knight's Circus service was arguably the most successful design to emerge from the project. She toured, between 1926 and 1927, with the Carmo's Circus, whose performers provided the inspiration for the designs. The clowns, trapeze artists, horses and high-wire acts are set within borders depicting the audience as if situated in a 'big top'. Dame Laura Knight was one of only two artists to design the shapes of the wares and her tureens and sauceboats feature performers moulded in relief. The designs were all exhibited in the Harrods department store as part of the Modern Arts for the Table.