The Colour Room
Inspired by the life of pioneering ceramicist Clarice Cliff, The Colour Room dives into 1920s Stoke-on-Trent, the heart of England’s pottery manufacturing industry. Actress Phoebe Dynevor, best known for her role in Bridgerton, makes her feature film debut as the protagonist, while Matthew Goode plays business owner Colley Shorter, the first person to notice Cliff’s talent and to believe in her.
The intrepid young Clarice begins her career as a factory worker, frequently changing jobs in order to explore all the different aspects of pottery making and to learn the techniques to help her turn her inventive ideas into reality. Living with her widowed mother Ann (Kerry Fox) and her sister Dot (Darci Shaw), Clarice is loved and supported at home, but she must battle every day to make her voice heard in the male-dominated workplace. When she is finally granted the opportunity to create her own work, she revolutionises the industry with standout pieces and with her iconic Art Deco series Bizarre, but her journey isn’t a smooth ride by any means.
Created by an all-female team, led by screenwriter Claire Peate and director Claire McCarthy, the film is as aesthetically pleasing as one can expect from a story celebrating a visual artist. McCarthy says that they put together an emotional and psychological palette for each scene, with only a specific range of colours used at each point to reflect the protagonist’s changing moods. The production effortlessly brings to life the artist’s vibrant world: from the smoking kilns to the jars of pigment in the colour room, every detail adds to the dynamic energy of the story.
It is no surprise that Peate was keen to write this biopic, as Cliff is an inspiring figure in many ways. She became a star in her field at a time when it was exceptionally difficult for a woman to get ahead, and she had trailblazing ideas. She also played a significant role in revolutionising how pieces are sold by moving them out of the art fairs and galleries and taking them straight to the target customers.
Overall The Colour Room doesn’t have any unique features or memorable scenes, so perhaps it does not quite stand out as its protagonist’s ceramics did. It is nevertheless a charming representation of a fascinating story, and it is narrated gracefully.
The Colour Room is released in select cinemas on 12th November 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Colour Room here: