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Explore the unique ceramics made for the coffee bars of the 1950s, conceived for particular spaces to amuse and engage the public.

Nature in Art has a fascinating collection of ceramic items, many of which would have adorned not just private homes, but public and commercial buildings too. While our favourite eateries remain closed we are venturing out to the coffee bars of the 1950s to explore the ceramics which were made for them by a small group of potters – primarily Margret Hine, William Newland and Nicholas Vergette.

Matthew, a V&A Visiting Fellow and Associate Department Head & Programme Leader at the University of the West of England, has brought together photographic, documentary and oral history evidence to paint a picture of a group of artists working for clients who wanted work which would make their coffee bar stand out from the 500 or so which had sprung up in London during the mid 1950s.

Whilst little if any of these ceramics survive today, it is clear that, uninhibited by the restraints of the Leach school, these artists were free to use colour, size and exotic themes to realise their client’s desire for their bar to stand out. The work of these artists represent fascinating examples of site specific ceramics, conceived for particular spaces to amuse and engage the public.

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