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Ask a Curator: Who is your favourite female artist?

Since the company’s foundation in 1759, we have made use of a number of very talented female artists in their own right. Women such as Lady Templetown, Therésè Lessore, Louise Powell, Daisy Makeig-Jones and Susie Cooper are perhaps some of the better known ones. One of my favourites, however, is Millicent Taplin who worked for the company for 45 years.

Millicent started working for Wedgwood in 1917, having previously attended evening classes at the Stoke School of Art. She commenced her work at Etruria under the surveillance of Alfred and Louise Powell, who had established a school of free-hand paintresses at the Etruria factory works.

Eventually, Millicent Taplin was to head the paintresses in the hand-crafts studio both at Etruria and Barlaston.

She married in 1932 and, in 1935, started to teach design and painting at the art school where she had originally been a student. During the late 1930s she became one of the more prolific designers for Wedgwood, creating both printed and painted patterns for use on bone china as well as Queen’s ware and other ceramic bodies. One of her first designs was 'Kingcup', and one of the most successful was 'Strawberry Hill' which was designed jointly with Victor Skellern and honoured by a Design of the Year Award by the Council of Industrial Design in 1957.

Around 1956 Miss Taplin took over the running of the newly combined china and earthenware hand-painting departments, remaining there until her retirement in 1962.

She died in 1980.