The Democratic Dish: Mintons Secessionist Ware

A new exhibition opens today at Chelsea Space, a public exhibiting space sited on the Millbank campus of Chelsea College of Arts, which highlights Léon Victor Solon and John W. Wadsworth’s important work on Minton’s Secessionist range. We’re especially excited to see it open as a small number of Minton Archive items will be on display alongside a fantastic array of Secessionist pieces from the Alessandra and Simon Wilson Collection.

From around 1901 to 1916 Minton produced a range of pottery called Secessionist Ware, designed by John W. Wadsworth under the art directorship of Léon Victor Solon. The stylised floral and foliage designs constitute a major British contribution to the international style of Art Nouveau. However, Solon and Wadsworth named the collection after the leading European Art Nouveau grouping of the time, the Vienna Secession, whose first international exhibition had been held in Vienna in 1898. The use of industrial manufacturing methods meant the Secessionist range was more accessible to the popular market than other smaller studio or hand-made pottery.

The exhibition contains examples of chargers, toilet ware, vases, pedestals, flower holders, candlesticks, jardinières, a cheese stand, plates and other utilitarian wares, as well as four items from the Minton Archive: a Secessionist Ware booklet (SD 1705/MS1361); a Photographs Book showing examples of Secessionist ware (SD 1705/MS1608); and two Wadsworth sketch books (SD 1705/MS4287, MS4288). Together these show the innovative approach to colour that Léon Solon contributed to the Secessionist range, combined with John Wadsworth’s designs of often radical abstractions from plant forms. The exhibition also examines Wadsworth’s advocacy for the decorative arts, highlighting both Solon and Wadsworth’s contribution to British design between 1900 and 1915.

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Alongside the exhibition there’s an opportunity to complete and submit a template (physical or digital) inspired by the work on display, four of which will be selected to be turned into transfers and workshopped onto ceramic chargers. To coincide with the exhibition there’ll also be presentations and a panel discussion on the subject of “Collecting, Archiving, Making, and the Place of Ceramics in Art and Society Today”.

We’re absolutely thrilled to see items from the Archive on display and we’d encourage you to visit the exhibition, which runs until Friday 26th October 2018. For more information, including how to visit, see

About Chelsea Space and Chelsea College of Arts

Chelsea Space is a public exhibiting space, sited on the Millbank campus of Chelsea College of Arts, where invited art and design professionals are encouraged to work on experimental curatorial projects.

Chelsea College of Arts is one of the world’s leading art and design institutions. Located at Millbank, next door to Tate Britain, Chelsea specialises in Fine Art, Graphic Design and Interior and Textiles Design. Since its origins in the 19th century, the College has produced many of the greatest names in the arts, including: Quentin Blake (illustrator and author) Ralph Fiennes (film and stage actor), Anish Kapoor (sculptor), Steve McQueen (artist), Chris Ofili (artist), Alan Rickman (film and stage actor), Alexei Sayle (comedian) and Gavin Turk (sculptor).