Who was Denise Wren?

Denise Wren (1891-1979) was one of the first studio potters in Britain. She was a student at Kingston School of Art from 1907-1912. Her teacher, Art Nouveau designer Archibald Knox, became a mentor and inspiration for her subsequent career as a potter and textile designer.

In 1920, Denise Wren, together with husband Henry, designed and built a single storey house, Potter’s Croft, at Oxshott in Surrey. In the same year the Wrens established the Oxshott Pottery, making brightly coloured earthenware which they sold at craft exhibitions. Their daughter Rosemary was born in 1922 and grew up to become a potter known for her animal sculptures.

Potter’s Croft and the Oxshott Pottery was a unique environment, both home and workplace for the Wrens. Here they taught pottery to amateurs and teachers, built and designed tools including kilns and experimented with hand building techniques thirty years before these became popular.

Today Denise Wren’s ceramics can be found in Kingston Museum, London, the Crafts Study Centre at Farnham in Surrey, Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) York Art Gallery, Aberystwyth University Ceramic Collection & Archive and the V&A. They have been displayed in a number of recent exhibitions:

That Continuous Thing: Artists and the Ceramics Studio 1920-Today Tate St. Ives, 2017

Hope For Beauty Kingston Museum, 2017-2018

Things of Beauty Growing Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 2018

Women’s Work Ditching Museum of Art + Craft, East Sussex, 2019