Friday, November 18, 2011

Arty Farty Friday ~ Clarice Cliff ~ Aquarian Bizarre-ness

Clarice Cliff - sounds like the name of one of today's pop stars! She was, however, an English designer of ceramics, one of the most prominent of her heyday: late 1920s to late 1930s, the Art Deco period. She was born on 20 January 1899 in Tunstall, in the area of England known as the midlands, Staffordshire to be exact. Staffordshire was, and still is, famous for its potteries.

(From and inlifeplus - here)
Clarice Cliff was always her own person. A Victorian (she was born in 1899), she carried on with her married boss, drove her own car from an early age and never stopped working until she died at 73.

She was raised in Staffordshire, the centre of Britain’s pottery industry, and joined a local business, the Newport Pottery factory, as a lithographer when she was still in her teens. Cliff’s artistic talent quickly came to the attention of her senior colleagues who sent her, at company expense, to the Royal College of Art in London and on trips to Paris where the Art Deco style was developing.

The phrase “Art Deco” was not commonly used in Britain until the 1960s. It derived from the Paris Exposition of 1925 and became a catch-all for a new visual language that drew on a wide range of sources--Cubism, the Ballets Russes, the Bauhaus, folk art, classicism and the rectilinear design of Art Nouveau. Reinterpreting these influences, artists and designers throughout Europe strove for an aggressively modern style that turned its back on the 19th century and the great war that had effectively brought it to an end.

Cliff and her team of paintresses eagerly set about appropriating this style for a domestic setting. Not for nothing has she been called the Mary Quant of her age. For in applying vivid, coloured designs to pottery that was made to be used--cups and saucers, teapots and plates--Cliff brought modernity face-to-face with the kitchen sink. Japanese pagodas, tennis nets, fruit and sunrays--they all served a purpose. Cliff’s shapes were distinctive, her colours appealingly bright. Hand-painting bands of colour without making a mistake took skill. The pottery may have been produced in multiple sets, but it never looked or felt as if it came off a conveyor belt. Cliff’s work sold and sold.

Three-quarters of a century later, it has also become widely collected, both in America and in Britain.

12 noon chart (no time of birth known)

"The Art of Bizarre" declares the book cover at the top of this post. Yeah, well.... when you see the word "bizarre" and astrology is involved, the next thing you expect to see is Aquarius and/or Uranus prominent in the natal chart. Yes! Sun at 00 Aquarius, with Uranus, Aquarius' modern ruler, in helpful sextile to Sun from 6 Sagittarius.

Some Sun Aquarius-types are more bizarre than others. I believe this to be dependent on the placement of Uranus. I'm an Aquarius-type myself, with Uranus in Earthy Taurus - I tend to be more of a "feet-on-the-ground" person, a wee bit less bizarre than some others born with Sun in Aquarius. In the case of Ms Cliff, with Uranus in Sagittarius, signifying exaggeration and all that's a wee bit over-the-top, we could expect a decent - or even indecent - showing of bizarre-ness!

Clarice Cliff did not disappoint, in art or in her lifestyle. Carrying on with the married boss, driving one's own car from an early age, working until age 73: these things aren't at all uncommon nowadays; some have become "the norm". But for a woman born into the Victorian era, in the midlands, far from the "wicked" city, her lifestyle must have seemed more than a little bizarre to onlookers. Her artwork too, her designs and use of colour were certainly bizarre, for those times.

Ms Cliff's natal Moon would have been in Taurus whatever time of day or night she was born. Taurus is ruled by Venus, planet of the arts - her gravitation to artistic design comes mainly from here. Taurus' ruler, Venus is in Sagittarius - so we find another echo of the same trend towards exaggeration seen in her Sun ruler's placement. However, Venus is conjunct practical business-minded Saturn which may explain her pull towards designing items for everyday practical use rather than merely for show.


Anna Van Z said...

Those are among the most gorgeous ceramic works I've ever seen! Simply amazing. What an interesting person!

Twilight said...

Anna Van Z ~~~ I've seen a few in real life, they look even better than these pics. An old friend of mine had a small CC vase, only affordable because it was quite badly chipped on one side, but it still looked gorgeous.

Anon and Ever said...

Mister Bizzare, Do Not Be A Zar...

Twilight said...

Anon & Ever ~~~