Born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1892, Keith Murray came to England with his parents in 1906 and after a stint with the Royal Air Force in the First World War trained as an architect. His architectural career was cut short by the economic depression that hit the building trade in the 1920s and 1930s, and he turned to other forms of design. Having produced some designs for glass pieces for other companies, he was invited to design for Wedgwood on a freelance basis. Murray's pieces were prominently displayed at an exhibition held by John Lewis in 1933, and by 1935 his work was attracting a lot of attention; in 1936 Wedgwood held an exhibition of its own which featured many of Keith Murray’s designs. In 1936, Murray was appointed to design the new Wedgwood factory at Barlaston in Staffordshire; after the Second World War, he returned to architecture and left his design work behind. Murray died in 1981.
Keith Murray’s designs for Wedgwood are very popular with collectors. True to his architectural training, his pieces are elegant, geometric and structural and the simplicity of his designs have made them a favourite with connoisseurs. Popular tableware designs include Lotus, Weeping Willow, Iris and Pink Flower and the most desirable colours are bronze, black, grey and moonstone. Genuine examples should carry either Keith Murray’s signature or his initials and the word ‘WEDGWOOD’.
As with all ceramics, the value of the individual item is largely dependent on the age, condition and rarity. Any damage reduces value considerably, but good, clean examples with no chips or cracks are in demand.
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