those of us who love staffordshire china…

… and paint it.

A still-life with a Staffordshire huntsman. Pastel by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

When you start looking there have been quite a number of 20th century artists who’ve been drawn to paint Staffordshire china, and there are a few contemporary artists, including me, who continue to be fascinated by the strange worlds that the figures evoke.

Staffordshire dogs by Enid Marx (1902 – 1998)

Many favour the iconic King Charles spaniels that have book-ended so many mantelpieces and dressers.

Contemporary artist Alice Patullo’s wittily named Staffordshire Figurines for the Clumsy, are made out of printed and stuffed calico

Staffordshire dog in a painting by Christopher Wood (1901 – 1930)

Contemporary artist Rob Ryan’s take on Staffordshire cats

The spirits of Ravilious, Nicholson, Wood and Wallis echo in the work of contemporary British artist Jonathan Christie. He uses chalky paint rubbed back, together with sgrafitto to create beautiful surfaces. Staffordshire figures are often a feature of his still-lifes

Staffordshire in the work of contemporary painter Emily Sutton. Emily uses starved brush-work in the manner of Ravilious, but her work also reminds me of another woman artist who had a love of the ‘unsophisticated arts’, Barbara Jones

Staffordshire group by contemporary artist Laura Knight

My friend, contemporary artist and illustrator Paul Bommer, here paints Staffordshire dogs onto a faux Delft tile

While I’ve painted quite a few Staffordshire equestrian and equestrienne figures, for me it’s the weird juxtaposition of children with dogs the size of Shetland ponies, and shepherds and shepherdesses with sheep of Brobdingnagian proportions, that have proved themselves the subjects that I find most rewarding.

Staffordshire dog with a boy in a Welsh landscape. Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Staffordshire dog with a girl in a Cornish landscape. Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Staffordshire horseman in Winter Garden. Clive Hicks-Jenkins

A Staffordshire shepherd in The Boy and his Sheep. Clive Hicks-Jenkins

I have some more Staffordshire still-life works coming along for my next exhibition, so watch this space.

11 thoughts on “those of us who love staffordshire china…

    • Hello Harry. Nice to hear from you.

      Jonathan Christie is painter who I much admired when we showed alongside each other over twenty years ago at the Kilvert Gallery in Clyro. (Now alas no more.) Peter and I purchased a beautiful little painting by him of a Staffordshire figure in front of a St Ives landscape. I must photograph it and put it up here at the Artlog.

      Jonathan’s painting was the source of Catriona Urquhart’s short story, Palmyra Jones, written as a birthday present for Peter in 1997. This went on to be the first book I illustrated for The Old Stile Press, an edition of one hundred produced by Nicolas on a laser-printer, though beautifully assembled and hand-stitched. A fold-out reproduction of Jonathan’s painting was tipped into the back of each copy, with an acknowledgement that it had been the inspiration for the tale.

      We haven’t stayed in touch with Jonathan. I wan’t able to find a great deal of his work online, though what’s there is as beautiful as ever. Searching for him is complicated by the fact that there was an American artist working in glass of the same name, and there’s a contemporary Australian expressionist painter too. All of which makes finding him rather more challenging. However, I’ve been persistent, and it seems he is an occasional exhibitor at the Rowley Gallery. Some lovely work on their site, and quite a few pieces still available at incredibly reasonable prices!

      • Dear Clive. I came across your blog site whilst trying to set my own up. Very flattered to see some of my pictures being talked about here. I’m still doing a few paintings, but I am a full-time book designer too. I have some of my work starting to go up here: https://jonathanchristieartist.wordpress.com/
        It’s not finished, but getting there.
        Also, I have written a book on a subject I think you might like. Info here: https://georgesmartfrant.wordpress.com/
        Liked your post on Liz Organ. She’s missed enormously. She was so generous towards me and my wife (the painter) Kim Marsland.
        Do keep in touch. Best wishes, Jonathan

        • Hello Jonathan

          Lovely to hear from you. Thank you for getting in touch. really pleased to see what you’ve been up to. I think I’m going to have to seek these out.

          I have my first picture-book out in November. Hansel & Gretel with Random Spectacular. It’s been a blast to make. But I do a fair old number of book covers too, these days. I’ve always loved the art of the paperback book-cover, and try to bring all of those European graphic traditions to my projects. You can see some covers HERE, and some book decorations HERE.

          I think Lizzie would be proud to see what we’re both up to!!!

    • The paintings of Christopher Wood… together with those of his close friend Winifred Nicholson… were my great inspirations when I was teaching myself to paint. Wood travelled to France and fell in with a fast set that included Diaghilev and Jean Cocteau. For Diaghilev Wood designed a ballet, Romeo and Juliet, though the designs were thought to be unsatisfactory and were never used.

      Influenced by Cocteau and his circle, Wood began smoking opium. He was a rather flighty young man, and was prone to becoming emotionally overwrought, embroiling himself in complicated relationships. But throughout it all he painted like an angel. In his last three months in Brittany in 1930 he created a magnificent body of work, better than most turn out in long careers, and all while floundering in despair as he attempted to cold turkey his opium addiction. He returned to the UK with the paintings in preparation for his London exhibition, but his mental state was not good and there are indications that he was suffering from paranoia. After a lunchtime meeting with his mother and sister at a hotel in Salisbury, during which he showed them the new work, he returned to the station and flung himself in front of a train.

      Eight years after his death, his work was seen at the Venice Biennale and he was given a major retrospective at the Redfern Gallery.

      • Yes, I read a couple of little bios of him–so terribly sad! And looked at the Tate pictures. He was so very young. How much he might have done if he hadn’t gotten involved with the wrong person and hence opium, early on.

  1. Wonderful to see all of the works in this post Clive, thank you for posting them, I especially like your Winter Garden painting. I’ve not come across Alice Patullo’s work before, I love those fabric dogs!

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