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Clarice Cliff Bizarre Grotesque Masks by Ron Birks

The series of Clarice Cliff Bizarre Grotesque Masks designed by Ron Birks were created in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Ron Birks was apprenticed to Clarice Cliff at the Newport Pottery and is noted for his abstract artwork on pottery and is probably most famous for the Grotesque Masks.

Clarice Cliff Grotesque Mask a rare Bizarre mask designed by Ron Birks
‘Grotesque Mask’ a rare Bizarre mask designed by Ron Birks, covered in a Clouvre glaze with enamel red details, printed factory marks, minor professional restoration to lower rim, 28.5cm. high. Sold for £3,800 at Woolley and Wallis, March 2018.

It is suggested that he was inspired to create the mask by a face in a picture by Hieronymus Bosch. Not many Grotesque Masks were created and the ones that appear at auction vary in colour and glaze. Ron Birks was the son of Lawrence Arthur Birks (1857 – 1935), a noted Minton designer famous for his pâte-sur-pâte work.

A rare Clarice Cliff Grotesque mask designed by Ron Birks painted in shades of green red and black
A rare Clarice Cliff Grotesque mask designed by Ron Birks painted in shades of green, red and black. Sold for £2,800 at Woolley and Wallis, March 2011.

Below we look at some further masks that have come to auction, or in collections with associated price guide and realised auction prices.

Grotesque Mask a Bizarre Mask circa 1930 ron birks
Grotesque Mask a Bizarre Mask circa 1930 by Ron Birks, painted in red, black, orange and yellow. Sold at Bonhams, September 2007.

One of the most impressive pieces we have seen is pictured on the online Museum at Claricecliff.com. It is listed as the Blue W Ron Birk’s Grotesque Mask. The shape of a W can be seen going from the right hand side of the mask and then going across the nose.

Blue W The Ron Birks Grotesque Mask
Blue W The Ron Birks Grotesque Mask. For more details visit Museum at ClariceCliff.com.

In 2001 the Wedgwood Collectors Club released a copy of mask which can be acquired by collectors more easily and cheaply than an original.

Wedgwood Modern copy of Clarice Cliff Grotesque Mask
A Modern copy of Clarice Cliff Grotesque Mask made by Wedgwood. Estimate £50-£80.

Clarice Cliff related
Clarice Cliff Bizarre Wall Masks of the 1930s
A look at Clarice Cliff
Clarice Cliff Teddy Bear Bookends
Clarice Cliff Cottage Bookends
Collecting Goldscheider Wall Masks

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