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Keith Murray Two-colour Clay Slipware Vase; Shape 4217. - c.1950

Two-colour clay vase by Keith Murray, © Wedgwood Museum
    Two-colour clay vase by Keith Murray
    © Wedgwood Museum

Keith Murray Two-colour Clay Slipware Vase; Shape 4217. Cream-colour clay dipped in celadon-coloured slip engine-turned to reveal the colour underneath.

Keith Murray Two-colour Clay Slipware Vase; Shape 4217. Cream-colour clay dipped in celadon-coloured slip engine-turned to reveal the colour underneath. Keith Murray had a huge effect on 20th century Wedgwood and this vase shows just one aspect of that influence. An architect by profession he was first employed by Wedgwood as a freelance designer in 1932 when the jazzy art deco style was giving way to the much calmer, simpler trend of modernism. By 1935, Murray had developed an extensive range of tableware and vases exhibited at venues such as the Royal Academy and John Lewis. He also designed surface patterns but it was for his attention to form that he is best celebrated. Most of his vase shapes were thrown on the wheel and turned on the lathe, in the traditional manner of the potter, giving them the solid, simplified appearance that was so popular in the 1930’s.

  • Type of object: Ornamental ware/vase
  • Mark: WEDGWOOD
    KM 5
    [Printed in green]
  • Year produced: c.1950
  • Body: two-coloured clay ware
  • Material: ceramic
  • Accession number: 11552
  • Dimensions: 206 mm (height)

Related people

  • Keith Murray Designer

    Keith Murray - Designer (1892 - 1981)

    Born in New Zealand, Murray later graduated from the Architecture Association School of Art in London in 1921. Unable to find architectural employment, he turned his attention instead to the design of silver, ceramics and glass.Keith Murray is one of the stars of Wedgwood’s 20th-century design story. First employed on a free lance basis in 1932, three years later, he had designed a number of surface patterns and an enormous range of tableware and ornamental shapes - many of which would remain in production until well into the 1950s. The establishment of Murray’s style signalled the beginning of Modernism and a design renaissance for Wedgwood. Only a few years previously in 1930, the next generation of Wedgwoods had taken the helm with with many new notions of how the business should succeed. Most significantly, the decision had been taken to relocate the entire factory from Etruria to a new green-field site at Barlaston. Keith Murray and his partner, CS White, were invited to be the architects for the challenge. In preparation, Murray and Works Manager, Norman Wilson (also responsible for the glazes which enhanced the modernistic appearance of his work) journeyed around America casting a critical eye over the most up-to-date manufacturing plants. When Murray admired spacial features, Wilson demanded to know what manufacturing equipment would economically fit the space. Finally, the building was complete – ultra-modern, all-electric, concrete-clad and with all the facilities required for a healthy working life in the pottery industry. Murray and Josiah V had developed such a close relationship that each became godfather to the other’s child and Murray was almost accepted as an honorary Wedgwood.The experience taught Murray much about the social obligations of architecture. In the late 1940s, in collaboration with various others, he went on to specialise in the construction of airport, commercial and industrial architecture.