Dora Billington

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Dora May Billington (1890 – 1968) was an English teacher of pottery, a designer and a studio potter. She was born into a family of potters in Stoke-on-Trent and studied at Hanley School of Art. She worked as a decorator for Bernard Moore, c.1909-1911 and then studied at the Royal College of Art (RCA) 1911-1916 and the Slade School of Art.[1] As the ceramics department at the RCA was in danger of closing because of the war, she helped to run it with John Adams (who later ran the Poole Pottery). She taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts from 1919 and left the RCA in 1924. She designed for J. & G. Meakin during the 1920s and 1930s. She later became head of department at the Central School assisted by Gilbert Harding Green. Her teaching emphasised the importance of handbuilding as the first stage of working with clay. She had an extensive knowledge of glaze technology and of the history of ceramics. Among her students were Quentin Bell,[2] William Newland, Gordon Baldwin, Ruth Duckworth and Alan Caiger-Smith. She retired from her post at the Central in 1955 when Gilbert Harding Green became Head of Department.

She was President of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society from 1949-1956[1] and was involved with the Crafts Centre at Hay Hill, where she was in charge of selecting the ceramics shown there. She was also involved with the Smithsonian touring Exhibition of British Artist Craftsmen in the 1950s.

Her book The Art of the Potter (1937), was the first book to relate contemporary craft practice to its historical context and in The Technique of Pottery (1962) gave a comprehensive account of the different methods of working.

Since the 1990s there has been an increased interest in her influence on twentieth century British studio pottery.

Selected publications[edit]

  • The Art of the Potter, Oxford, OUP, 1937
  • The Technique of Pottery, London, Batsford, 1962
  • Pottery for Everyone New York, Watson-Guptill, 1974


  1. ^ a b John Farleigh, The Creative Craftsman, London: G.Bell & Sons, 1950
  2. ^ Bell, Quentin, "My Day". Ceramic Review, London, No. 158, March/April 1996


  • Jones, Jeffrey, In Search of the Picassoettes
  • Stair, Julian, "Dora Billington" Crafts 154, September/October 1998, pp. 24–25

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]