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Troika Pottery

Taking its name from the Russian word for a set of three, Troika pottery was a Cornwall ceramic producer from the mid- to late 20th century. Characterized by geometric motifs that were rendered in multi-colored glazes on art pottery, Troika verged on sculpture and established itself as an innovator in the field of pottery production.

Established in 1962 as a collaboration between Jan Thompson, Benny Sirota, and Leslie Illsley, Troika was based in the town of Saint Ives along England's southwester Cornwall coast. Troika's creators had lofty goals that involved a wholly novel approach to art pottery. Instead of focusing on functional objects, Troika's pieces were inherently sculptural in nature, playing with geometric shapes and variations on rough and smooth glazes to create unprecedented novelty in their designs.

Their pieces, which ranged from vases to lamps, embodied an earthen sensibility reinforced by the grittiness of the their rough glazes and the subdued nature of their palettes. The idea behind these pieces was remarkably dynamic and their approach captivated collectors until 1983 when the company folded. Troika pieces still compel collectors today because of their novelty.

Quick Facts

  • In addition to tableware, Troika also earned a reputation as an exceptional producer of decorative ceramic tile
  • So popular were Troika's designs over the '60s and '70s that they were sold in some of London's trendiest shops, including Regent Street's Liberty department store
  • Examples of Troika pottery are part of the collections of the Penlee House Gallery & Museum as well as the Victoria & Albert Museum

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