A Word From Our Sponsor

This post was written by my friend and collaborator Gloria, who under the umbrella of her business Sussex Lustreware, has produced the Harlequinade range of lustre-embellished transferware for which I made drawings on the theme of Victorian Toy Theatre.

A post on the subject of theatrical swags – and collaborative sparks!

“With our first collection, the World of Wonders, Clive gave me his beautiful drawings and more or less carte blanche on the production and decoration of the pots, largely leaving me to get on with it as I thought best, a touching display of trust!

With Harlequinade he was creating the artwork especially for them, and greater collaboration on the overall design seemed in order to make the most of it. So over the summer we had some lengthy chats via Instagram, with pictures and ideas flying back and forth between us. And emojis of course! πŸ˜€πŸ˜†πŸ‘

As an admirer of Laura Knight’s ‘Circus’ designs for Clarice Cliff in the 1930s I was keen at the chance to use plate rims in a similar way, with an audience and ruched swags suggestive of a night at the theatre.

Laura Knight Circus plate
Laura Knight Circus plate with the audience around the rim


Clive obliged with small groups of spectators, while I tried to work out how best to suggest draped velvet with lines of lustre.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins Post-It with suggestion for swag placement
Above and below: Harlequinade audience

Other influences and inspiration cropped up in conversation, from Hockney’s ‘Rake’s Progress’ Glyndebourne sets, through Rex Whistler interiors, to the trompe l’oeil Austrian curtain wallpaper in my aunt’s C20 Bethnal Green bathroom 🀩.

Rex Whistler ‘swag’
Hockney design for The Rake’s Progress


We decided that a single ellipse was too abstract, that three were too much, and so arrived at two. Plus the trio of embellishments, so that the glamour of the occasion – and our fluency as semioticians – should be in no doubt! 

From a 19th Century Toy Theatre Character Sheet
Reinterpretation + swags

I was so pleased with the results that the swags ended up not just on the plates but festoon the jugs and trinket box too βœ¨πŸ’–

Lustre swags before firing
Trinket-box with with swags


It was really fun working in this way, so I thought you might like to see a few snippets ‘behind the scenes’!”

2 thoughts on “A Word From Our Sponsor

  1. Thank you for such an interesting insight into the process Gloria, it’s nice to see the germ of great things often starts on a post-it note! πŸ™‚

    And Clive, I can report that I have watched all eight of the animations now (during yesterdays lunch break) and thoroughly enjoyed them all. πŸ™‚

    • Glad you enjoyed them. They were a huge amount of fun to make!

      It’s surprising how many ideas that eventually become central to projects, start out as scribbled Post-Its. (I keep pads of them on my desk for these precise purposes!)

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