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Commercial Design | Brand Hinchcliffe & Barber Est. 1980


John Hinchcliffe, internationally known designer/ weaver and Wendy Barber, painter and weaver, formed their partnership in the early 1980s. They decided to look at domestic ceramics, rejecting the Leach tradition of Studio ceramics in favour of traditional European functional pottery.


In 1982 John Hinchcliffe exhibited platters at the Victoria and Albert Museum in which he had collaborated with Janice Tchalenco, John Hinchcliffe introduced Tchalenco to his sponged and stencilled techniques and also figurative motifs. Hinchcliffe together with Barber then developed his ceramic work on earthenware with a particular interest in majolica glazes.  Among the first designs, which were largely blue and white, were White Flower, Hypericum and Italian Tulip all boldly painted or stencilled on their distinctive platters and first exhibited at the Salisbury Arts Centre in 1983.


The success of this show encouraged Hinchcliffe and Barber to increase the range. They designed jug and mug shapes. Very soon they were unable to keep up with demand and they approached Poole Pottery to assist in the making of the biscuit for Hinchcliffe and Barber to decorate in their studio and also with the production of Blue Rim, Blue and Splatter along side their popular Blue Spongeware. This marked the beginning of the studio range. At this time Poole Pottery commissioned Hinchcliffe and Barber to design a range for them, this is marked POOLE BLUE, and features Fish Platters and Blue Spongeware. John trained decorators at Poole Pottery in his techniques.


 The early studio designs were sold to galleries and design conscious shops such as Heals in London and Co-Existance in Bath. These designs, shown at the Chelsea Craft Fair were spotted by George Davis and his team, in due course Next produced White Flower, Italian Tulip, Blue Rim and Spongeware on new tableware shapes designed by Hinchcliffe and Barber for Next which were sold in the Next Directory and homeware shops for several years.


This collaboration with Next illustrates the Hinchcliffe and Barber philosophy which is that the studio could and would experiment and develop new ideas and designs and supply hand made pieces in limited quantity to private customers, shops and galleries. Hinchcliffe and Barber also took responsibility for styling and marketing their product from the very beginning and benefited from the publicity given to their look by the Life Style magazines, most notably, Country Homes and Interiors, Homes and Gardens, Country Living and The World of Interiors. Their ceramics were sold throughout the world, for example: to Isitan in Tokyo, Barneys, Lord and Taylor and Macys in New York, David Jones in Australia and Printemps in France and in London, Harvey Nichols, Harrods and the General Trading Company.  The John Lewis partnership stocked Tulip and Dorset Delft in most of their stores.


When Hinchcliffe and Barber moved their studio production from their home to larger premises in Sixpenny Handley on Cranborne Chase, increased demand for studio ware led them to select and train three decorators in their techniques. Barbara Wallis, Rachel Sargeant and Anita Harris. All were untrained in ceramic decoration except for Barbara Wallis who had been working at Poole Pottery on the POOLE BLUE range. This team continued to decorate with Hinchcliffe and Barber until the Sixpenny Handley studio closed 5 years later when Hinchcliffe and Barber moved to Normandy.


During the years at the Sixpenny Handley studio Hinchcliffe and Barber issued a licence to Saville Pottery in Stoke on Trent to produce some of their most popular tableware designs, these included Tulip, Dorset Delft, White Flower and Pansy, these were supplied to shops around the world until well into the late 1990s.  Among the designs Hinchcliffe and Barber introduced during this period were Steeplechase, Tessera Tulip, The Sponged Flower series and Vineleaf.


The farmhouse in Normandy provided ample space for Hinchcliffe and Barber to house themselves, the studios and also a shop which was situated in the most magnificent cider press building. By having every thing on site and with the main production in Stoke on Trent Hinchcliffe and Barber had the time to experiment with more designs, techniques and develop the textiles and also allowed time to make the product for, write and style their two books published by Cassell. CERAMIC STYLE (1994) and PRINT STYLE (1995).  Designs introduced from the Normandy Studio included the Studio Cockerel, which came in many forms and was loved by the French, Fish and The Mille Fleur Series, and Devon Farm and Carousel for production by Saville. Time was also devoted to linocuts, painting and drawing.


Back in Dorset by the millennium, Hinchcliffe and Barber developed their work and designed a stoneware tableware range, WAVE, which was commissioned by The Russell-Cotes Museum and Art Gallery in Bournemouth and made by Dartington Pottery. An exhibition of colourful stoneware designed and decorated by Hinchcliffe and Barber took place at the Cider Press Centre at Dartington in 2000.


John Hinchcliffe died in 2010 -

Wendy Barber continues to design for Hinchcliffe & Barber with her daughter Georgia Hinchcliffe.

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