Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Two important Auckland events - Mark Cleverley designer

Mark Cleverley was a very influential designer who worked at Crown Lynn through the 1970s.  In Auckland there are two events showcasing him and his work:

The Going West Festival
The Going West Festival talk is a must see - it will feature Mark Cleverley talking about his work, especially his time at Crown Lynn. I will also be on stage, along with Jonty Valentine who did much of the research for the exhibition at Objectspace.  I am anticipating that most of the hour-long session will be Mark telling us about his time at Crown Lynn - what he designed, why he designed it, where his inspiration came from, etc etc. There is a $15 entry fee; $12 concession. The session is chaired by Objectspace director Philip Clarke.
Venue: Titirangi War Memorial Hall, 500 Titirangi Road, Titirangi, Auckland
Time: 9.00 am on Saturday 13 Sept 2014
Here is the full website for the Going West Festival - a wonderful weekend to be had! Friday 12 Sept-Sunday 14.

The exhibition
The Mark Cleverley: Objectspace Master of Craft exhibition covers Marks entire career - as well as Crown Lynn, he designed for many other media including packaging and stamps.  It is well worth a visit - and don't leave it too long, it closes on 11 October. To accompany the exhibition a book written by Jonty Valentine and  Sherry Blankenship has just been published by Bateman. Here is a nice review on Design Assembly which features gorgeous pics from the book!
Venue: Objectspace, 8 Ponsonby Rd, not far from the intersection with Great North Rd and Karangahape Rd.
Closes 11 October 2014

Mark Cleverley worked at Crown Lynn through the 1970s, after coming to their notice through consistent successful entries in the annual design competition.  Mark is a very accomplished designer who has received a number of prestigious awards. He taught at Wellington Polytechnic and Victoria University after leaving Crown Lynn.

Here are some pics from the exhibition, courtesy Ev Williams.  Below we see three experimental designs at the rear, with golden Sundowner, Purple Myrtle and Ellerslie hotel ware in the foreground.
Here is the classy ware made for Bellamy's restaurant at the Beehive. Truly elegant in rich browns with a slight purplish iridescence when the light is right.These examples came from Parliamentary Services.
Lastly, here are two popular patterns Mark is proud of - Palm Springs on the left and Ponui on the right.

And here, for a wee treat, are my pics of some of my favourite designs by Mark Cleverley.
This is Ponui:

Juliana (rare in New Zealand)

My precious Bellamy's plate.  To my knowledge this ware was never released on the open market so I am very glad I stumbled upon one years ago in an op shop.

Lovely cool elegant Apollo.  This shape used to be very easy to come by, but now its not often found in the shops - I guess people have realised what a pleasure it is to use.

More soon
See you at Going West at 9.00 am on Saturday 13 September!


  1. Gee I wish I was in Auckland to hear Mark speak and see the exhibition. It would be great to know the full story behind the appearance of his name along with the Dorothy Thorpe mark on 'Pine' d 487.The Echo plates I've collected are my 14 year old daughter's favourite and inspire her to produce beautiful meals on them. I'm still picking up Apollo pieces at our local Re-Cycle store. There does seem to be quite a range of production quality with Apollo. Some very good but some very shoddy. Another question for Mark is whether he bounced off Johnson Bros' Athena - a nice brother/sister link there.

    1. And yes, I will try to remember to ask him about Athena. There are of course 'trends' with various potteries picking up the same themes, but there was also some copying. They do look very similar.

  2. I am so glad your daughter likes Echo. I do too. And yes the Dorothy Thorpe/Crown Lynn story is interesting.. Pine was actually developed by David Jenkin but it accidentally got Mark Cleverley's name on it! Palm Springs is by Mark, but he designed it before he started working at CL. Yes indeed, I hope Mark tells us more at the Going West talk.

  3. Hi there! I came across your blog as I was researching some Crown Lynn Pottery I found in a thrift store in the US. It turns out I brought home four teacups, a sugar bowl, and a milk jug in the Dorothy Thorpe Laguna pattern (the ones with the ball handles). I was wondering if you know if these pieces are primarily collected in New Zealand, or are they collected worldwide? I had never heard of them until I can across these pieces...the ball handles were so cute, I just had to bring them home. :-)

  4. Hi Sherri, you are our second correspondent from the US with comments about Dorothy Thorpe ware. The range with the ball handles was developed for the American market, in a business partnership between Dorothy Thorpe and Crown Lynn. To my knowledge the ball handled ware was not sold widely in New Zealand, most of it was exported. However there are a few avid collectors in NZ, including one person whose aim it is to get the entire range - all shapes, in all patterns! I imagine there are other collectors in the US but I guess this ware would be pretty difficult to find - yours is a large country and Crown Lynn's output was not huge. I love Laguna, well done for spotting it! From memory there are two posts on this blog about Dorothy Thorpe - I guess you have found them. If you post another comment with your email address I can send you some more information - I won't publish it course. Kind regards

  5. I have just discovered Crown Lynn and your blog! Lovely! How much do you own?? I'm a firm in using items- but are there any pieces you'd recommend for decoration only??

    1. There are some special dinnerware patterns that I personally would not use - and of course the vases, animal figurines etc are only for decoration. I have quite a bit of Crown Lynn but i am slowly downsizing as I add to my collection of other NZ commercial pottery.

  6. The 'Crockery of Distinction' brochure states:
    Never released on the open market, Crown Lynn’s Bellamy’s dinner ware found its way into the public realm through parliamentary staff taking or being gifted items.

    1. Thanks for that info Michael. I do have ONE Bellamy's plate in very good condition. I gave a lot of stuff to the Crown Lynn museum recently but I couldn't bear to part with that one....