School of Art

Contact Details

School of Art
Aberystwyth University
Buarth Mawr
SY23 1NG

Tel: +44 (0)1970 622460

Fax: +44 (0)1970 622461


Display artist/maker:

Ruth Duckworth

Born: 1919, Germany, Hamburg   Died: 2009, USA, Chicago

Ceramicist and sculptor. Duckworth took up drawing following a doctor’s recommendation that she stay homebound to improve her health. Born to a Lutheran mother and Jewish father, she left Germany to study at the Liverpool College of Art (1936-40) as restrictions imposed in Nazi Germany prevented her from studying art in her home country. This was followed by a period of study at Hammersmith School of Art (1955).

After art school Duckworth mainly worked as a sculptor in wood and stone, even sometimes as a tombstone carver. Having become interested in ceramics, she was encouraged by her friend, the Austrian émigré potter Lucie Rie, to take some formal training in ceramics. She attended the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London (1956-58) where she learned stone carving and later became a member of staff.

For several years Duckworth produced functional wares, but after 1960 she followed her earlier preference for sculpture, creating modernist abstract works inspired by organic form. Unusually for the period, she used hand-building methods of coiling for her large stoneware vessels and pinching for the more delicate porcelain pieces.

In 1964 she accepted a teaching position at the University of Chicago and has lived in the USA ever since. Over her long career Duckworth has had many commissions for architectural murals as well as continuing to produce small scale pieces. She made ceramics until her late 80s, working a 40-hour week. She was one of the first artists to successfully straddle the divide between sculpture and ceramics.

Objects in the collections associated with this artist/maker

[Bowl with arch] C1586 Ceramics

[Vessel] C1358 Ceramics