Margrete (Grete) MARKS
Born in Cologne in Germany she studied at Dusseldorf and the Weimar Bauhaus (1920-1921) under Itten & Gerhard Marcks. She founded the Hael Pottery at Marvitz with her husband Gustav Loebenstein in 1923. They employed 120 workers and the pottery sold in Heals and Liberty’s in England, as well as France, Sweden and the USA. She ran the factory herself after her husband’s early death in a car accident but in 1934, when things were becoming increasingly difficult for Jewish people, she sold the works. After periods of travelling to Palestine (1933), Yugoslavia (1934) and Denmark she emigrated with her two sons to England in 1936.
In the following years she worked as a designer at Stoke on Trent for Mintons, Ridgeway and Brains Foley potteries but the environment was not easy for women designers and her continental modernism was not widely accepted. In 1938 she married Harold Marks and in the same year set up independently under the name of Grete Pottery decorating biscuit-ware bought in from other producers. At the onset of war that too was forced to close. After the war she moved to London and increasingly turned to painting, ‘pottery pictures’ and later studio pottery. She exhibited regularly in the UK, including two exhibitions in Wales at Cardiff University in 1978 and 1984. She also produced silverware and made two large murals for the entrance hall of office buildings in Bradford designed in 1960 and 1966. Her work is in national and regional collections in the UK, as well as Germany and the USA. After her death she was featured showing alongside Lucie Rie in the Crafts Council Exhibition ‘ Influential Europeans’ (1992). Her archive is held in the Berlin Jewish Museum. The pieces in Aberystwyth were donated by her daughter, Frances Marks in 2006.