Rye Pottery at the 1951 Festival of Britain

The 21st Century Mid-century Modern Collection from Rye Pottery is a contemporary take on our rich archive of patterns and shapes from the 1950s and 1960s. As ever form and function are at the core of every piece.

Rye Pottery was one of a select band of British pottery companies & potters asked to exhibit at the now iconic Festival of Britain in 1951. Rye Pottery’s designs featured in the “Homes & Gardens” Pavilion at the Festival’s main South Bank site as well as the Land Travelling Exhibition. As a newer, smaller pottery than the traditional northern firms, the celebrated Rye Pottery work sat alongside other leading names of the era including Bernard Leach & Lucie Rie.

Rye Pottery was transformed almost overnight from a run-down country firm into a modernist, design-led production pottery when it was re-opened in 1947 by two fashionable sculptor/potters from London – brothers Wally & Jack Cole. The Coles’ ethos of injecting modernism and contemporary industrial design theory into a neglected production pottery was perfectly in tune with the aims of the Festival. Wally was a founder member of the Council of Industrial Design and was also a key member of the team who staged the Festival’s predecessor – the 1946 Britain Can Make it exhibition.

Stocked by everyone from Heal’s in London to Tiffany’s in New York, Rye Pottery’s fame grew and the company never looked back. Original examples from this period are now considered Mid-century classics and are part of the ceramics collections of both the V&A and the Geffrye Museum.

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