Roger Michell obituary

My husband, the potter Roger Michell, who has died aged 70 after a short illness, was best known for the Walking Ware tea service he designed in 1974, its quirky pieces mounted on legs, clad in shoes and stripy socks, and ready to stride out. His highly decorative style came as a breath of fresh air in the world of pottery.

Roger’s pots are held in public collections including that of the V&A, the Glasgow City Museum, the Norwich Castle Museum, the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Staffordshire, and the Tea and Coffee Museum in London. In 2009 I published a book about his work, Walking Ware: A Collector’s Guide.

Roger was born in Guildford, Surrey, the second son of Edna (nee Scott), a teacher, and Norman Michell, a modernist architect and garden designer, and went to Harrow High grammar school.

His father apprenticed him, aged 15, to David Eeles, a pioneer of the 1950s country pottery movement. During summer holidays, Roger stayed with the Eeles family in west Dorset, where he met distinguished potters including Bernard Leach. At the Central School of Art and Design, in London, where he studied ceramics under Gilbert Harding-Green, he met Danka Napiorkowska, a fellow student, and they married in 1970.

Roger left the course early to start his first pottery in London. When this venture failed, he worked for Sir Anthony Caro, painting sculpture and then as a gallery assistant in the opening year of the Serpentine Gallery in 1970. He left London for Yorkshire, where he worked as a zoo artist, and where in 1973 he started Lustre Pottery, in Malton, with Danka.

There they created and sold the Walking Ware tea set. It was originally made by hand and later manufactured on a larger scale by the industrial pottery Carlton Ware. Lustre closed in 1987 and Roger and Danka divorced the following year. His second marriage, to Jill Murphy, also ended in divorce.

Roger continued to exhibit widely and his pots were collected all over the world. He and I met in 1992 in a life-drawing class and we married in 2003. We happily divided our time between Roger’s pottery studio in France, our caravans in the Algarve and family in the West Country.

He was a kind man with an unforgettable sense of humour and a razor sharp intellect. Roger would grasp any challenge and in 2011 he wrote and published a mystery novel, The Salt Glaze Murders.

He is survived by me, his daughters, Chloe and Alice, from his first marriage, and my children, Carly, Mazey and Louie.

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