New Portrait to Celebrate Susan Williams-Ellis

New Portrait to Celebrate Susan Williams-Ellis

An exhibition will open next week to showcase a work in progress portrait of designer Susan Williams-Ellis. The work-in-progress will be created over a fortnight by sculptor Jeremy Stiff and will be available to view at Plas Brondanw as it develops.

British sculptor Jeremy Stiff is undertaking a project hosted by Plas Brondanw, home of the Susan Williams-Ellis Foundation (SWEF), to create a bust of the celebrated designer and founder of Portmeirion Pottery.

Jeremy is the son-in-law of Susan Williams-Ellis and knew her personally for may years before her death in 2007 at the age of 89. Working from memory, as well as family and SWEF archive photography, he will be creating the initial portrait in clay over two weeks at the Orangery at Plas Brondanw Gardens in Llanfrothen, North Wales, from 7th to 18th August. The final sculpture will then be cast as a lasting tribute to one of the world’s most recognized ceramic artists and businesswomen, a woman who had a significant impact on the creative legacy of North Wales.

Susan Williams-Ellis was the eldest daughter of noted architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. She studied at the Chelsea School of Art under Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland and became an accomplished artist, designer, illustrator and author. Her paintings were exhibited at the Festival of Britain, and many of the rooms at Portmeirion Village, which was designed and built by her architect father in the Italian style, were furnished with her beautiful fabric designs.

In 1960 she founded Portmeirion Pottery with her husband Euan Cooper-Willis. Their popular ceramics were first sold at Portmeirion, and in 1961 a second gallery was opened on London’s elegant Pont Street. Susan’s designs were considered the height of contemporary style, and in 1972 she launched her Botanic Garden collection, which became a world renowned and bestselling range of tableware, still noted for its quality and beauty. Today, Portmeirion Pottery continues to be sold worldwide, but its spiritual home, along with the Susan Williams-Ellis Foundation Archive, remain in North Wales. The archive contains a vast number of items from Susan’s personal collection, including prints and postcards, as well as other items, such as letters and newspaper cuttings, that relate to her extraordinary life.

Sculptor Jeremy Stiff studied figurative sculpture and gained an MA in Fine Art from Cardiff University. He works in clay, wood, stone and bronze, and is known for his figurative work and large-scale outdoor sculpture. Jeremy exhibits extensively in Wales, England and France, and has created site specific works for locations including Longleat Park in Wiltshire, and Saint Maur and Meymac in France. He will be in residence creating the initial sculpture at Plas Brondanw from 7th to 18th August 2023.

Jeremy Stiff’s work to create the bust of Susan Williams-Ellis will run from 7th August at Plas Brondanw, you can find out more about how to view the work-in-progress via their website.