By the early 1960s, St Ives was heaving with would-be artists,
drawn to the southwestern tip of Cornwall to follow in the
footsteps of Alfred Wallis, Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood.
Among them were Benny Sirota, who had arrived in St Ives with a
plan to run boat trips from the harbour, and Leslie Illsley, a
passionate sculptor and abstract artist, who were drinking buddies
at the famous Sloop Inn.
Both men shared a belief in the shortcomings of St Ives
For Sirota and Illsley, neither of whom had received any formal
training in pottery manufacture, Bernard Leach and his many
followers lacked individualism. Their dream was to produce
innovative mould-cast wares of their own and by 1963 the two men
and sleeping partner Jan Thompson (a Swedish architect who
sometimes helped out on Saturdays), invested £1000 each to acquire
the stock and goodwill of the Wheel Dream, the Powell and Wells
They chose the name Troika (meaning a Russian sleigh drawn by
three horses) for its sharp, angular sound that hinted at the
sharp, angular forms they had in mind for production.
by Roland Arkell
From the ATG Archive
25 February 2013
The 50th anniversary of the founding of the Troika Pottery in St Ives has inspired a new book and exhibition which has shone the spotlight on this collecting field.
10 April 2004
NOT all the market resides in a state of stagnation.
26 January 2009
Readers are being urged to be aware of a new batch of counterfeit Troika wares that are being offered for sale on eBay.
ATG Site Search
10 August 2012
Last month, we reported on Sue Ede’s purchase of The Bath Decorative Antiques Fair from Robin Coleman, the Bath-based dealer who has organised the event for the past 23 years.
25 October 2005
When the Troika pottery in Newlyn closed its doors in 1983 its moulds were secured for posterity, not in a local museum or the collection of a Troika devotee but in a garden shed in Northumberland.
27 June 2012
A collection of Cornish Troika pottery will go under the hammer at Lawrences of Crewkerne, Somerset at their three-day, mixed-discipline sale on July 3, 5 and 6.
27 May 2005
THE reputation established by Gardiner Houlgate over the last ten years for Clarice Cliff pottery has resulted in two specialist sales each year of around 200 lots.
12 September 2011
MORE details have come to light regarding the break-in at Long Street Antiques Centre in Tetbury during the early hours of Friday, August 26.
01 March 2005
David Lay, Penzance. January 20 & 21. Buyer’s premium: 15 per cent
THERE were rather fewer lots than usual at Cornwall but the 720 on offer were true to tradition; a high take up (around 90 per cent), plenty of two- and three-figure bids on collectables and ceramics, standard furniture creeping into four figures, and one lot taking off.