John Clappison

John Clappison

William John Clappison (born 27 June 1937, Hull, England) is an English Ceramic and Glass designer

When the family moved to Hornsea and John’s father started to support Hornsea Pottery, the founders of the Pottery, Colin and Desmond Rawson, saw great potential in John Clappison. He designed pieces such as Elegance and Tricorn for Hornsea Pottery whilst attending the Hull College of Arts and Crafts. The Pottery then sponsored his year at the Royal College of Art in London where he specialised in Industrial Design and Ceramics. After gaining the Faculty of Design Certificate in Ceramics at the Royal College of Art, John was appointed as Hornsea Pottery’s Chief Designer in 1958. A studio was specially built on the Pottery site and when this was fully instituted, John refined and originated a whole range of designs for tablewares, novelties and gift wares.

Amongst his many designs for Hornsea Pottery was his ‘Home Decor‘ range, which are "highly reminiscent of the most advanced work in Studio Ceramics" (Dr. Graham McLaren in his 1997 book Ceramics of the 1950s). Several innovative items of tableware and decorative pieces were produced, reflecting contemporary designs, the 1950s hand-decorated Slipware, 1960s Studio vases, 1970s Muramics and mugs and 1980s People Figures are all enthusiastically collected. [ (Hornsea Pottery Collectors and Research Society) ]

As well as his work for Hornsea Pottery, John also designed for Ravenhead glass, Royal Doulton, Coryfo ceramics and the Upsala Ekeby group.

Selected quotes about his work are:Lesley Jackson; "“Designs by John Clappison such as ‘Home Decor, Studiocraft and Lattice were in a completely new idiom….they presaged trends which would be consolidated during the early 1960’s" (Lesley Jackson, The New Look - Design in the Fifties (Thames and Hudson 1991) ). Alan Peat; "Hornsea Pottery……was set on its feet by ranges of cheap ware which were not contemporary in style, and it was only at the end of the 1950’s, following the appointment of William John Clappison as chief designer in 1958 that Hornsea became a major force in modern design" (Alan Peat, Austerity to Affluence, British Art and Design) - (Merrell Holberton, 1997)Wayne Hemingway "Today, as design becomes increasingly concerned with competitiveness and quality of life, innovation must again facilitate a creative response to change. John Clappison’s team at Hornsea in the 1960’s churned out winning designs year on year, developing and colluding craft techniques, to a classic standard with a trend awareness and clear passion for the market". Wayne Hemingway at the 2002 Ceramic Forum, as reported by Marcus Holmes for the Ceramic Review, June 2002).

A biography on John Clappison was published in April 2007. This official biography brings into focus the scope and variety of John’s work with his full knowledge and co-operation. [ Gone to Pot. The Life and Work of John Clappison, by Pauline Coyle. ISBN 0955545501. [] ]


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