Antiques Column: Susie’s Art Deco designs are still very collectable

Michael Dowse at the AE Dowse Auction house which will be closing doors at the premises on Scotland Street

Michael Dowse at the AE Dowse Auction house which will be closing doors at the premises on Scotland Street

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“No home is complete without Susie Cooper,” the ceramic designer once said in a bid to advertise her own work.

Susie Cooper (1902-95) studied at the Burslem School of Art (1919-22) originally hoping to go into the world of fashion.

Little did she know her successful career was to begin when she took up a position as paintress at AE Gray & Co Pottery in 1922 and quickly became established as resident designer.

Susie Cooper was middle-class and well-educated and introduced to modern art early. She is often described as having a sophisticated approach to design and this is true as her influences included cubism and French art deco modernism.

Her work in the art deco style is by far her best and most popular, much of it created at the Susie Cooper Pottery, founded in 1929.

Although her work spanned seven decades, this period will always be seen as her crowning glory. Susie Cooper collections comprise almost entirely of tableware; useful and functional. Her speciality is considered to be breakfast services, including toast racks and egg cups.

She set up on her own because she wanted a new freedom, not just over designs but shapes too. After a couple of false starts, the move to the famous Crown Works happened in 1931. The 1930s was a time of rapid growth and expansion for Susie Cooper. New shapes were introduced, new lithograph patterns developed and a move away from predominately hand-painted wares; the famous Kestrel shape was launched in 1932 and probably her most famous lithograph pattern, the Dresden spray, was introduced in 1935.