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.
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.
Below we look at some further masks that have come to auction, or in collections with associated price guide and realised auction prices.
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.
In 2001 the Wedgwood Collectors Club released a copy of mask which can be acquired by collectors more easily and cheaply than an original.