Arnold Machin

From humble beginnings as a potteries apprentice Arnold Machin rose to become an acclaimed sculptor creating the iconic bas-relief portrait of Her Majesty the Queen used on all Royal Mail definitive issue stamps.

Patricia Machin

Patricia Machin was born in 1921 and studied painting at Goldsmith's where her tutor was Leonard Applebee. Finding inspiration from the Old Masters and still-life, she was an established painter, illustrator, designer and author.

Francis Machin

Architect, sculptor, businessman and painter, Francis Machin was a talented designer responsible for a range of conservatories and garden buildings still seen throughout the United Kingdom, United States and Europe.

Arnold Machin was born on 30th September 1911 at Oak Hill in Stoke on Trent into a family of 12. Soon after his birth, the family moved to a terrace house in the village of Trent Vale on the edge of the Potteries, the collective name given to the six pottery manufacturing towns situated in North Staffordshire. Arnold was a sickly child, often away from school and consequently became rather solitary.

He preferred to construct things, draw or simply daydream rather than play outside. He always said that he must have been born with a pencil in his hand because he was drawing from a very early age. Although his family had little money, they managed to provide him with books, pencils, watercolours, and scraps of paper to work with.

Arnold's father was a freelance modeller and made Arnold his first set of modelling tools. His elder brother, Will, worked with his father after leaving school, and they both worked in a shed at the bottom of their backyard. They both tried to survive by producing small models for the pottery industry, but they couldn't make it cost effective and eventually had to find more reliable jobs. Will worked as a modeller at a local factory, and their father worked as a turner at Buller's Porcelain Factory.

Throughout his childhood, Arnold's passion for drawing and modelling continued to grow, and he was very much encouraged by his family. Around the age of seven a travelling salesman persuaded his mother to buy twelve volumes of Arthur Mee's Encyclopaedia by installments, and Arnold described this as “a godsend”. The books were richly illustrated and he would copy the pictures from them. “My horizon was suddenly widened beyond anything I could possibly have imagined.” Arnold would absorb everything that was new to his eyes wherever he went.

Arnold's older brothers and sisters would buy him things from the little shop in Stoke which supplied artists' materials, including postcards which he would copy. One such card was of a romantic Italian garden by moonlight by Tom Mostyn, which had a tremendous impact on Arnold and on his artistic development. Before leaving school, his father took him to Liverpool to visit an art gallery which he found to be a wonderful experience as he had never seen original paintings before, and he was also able to study for the first time original sculptures. The painting “The Stone Breaker” by John Brett made a lasting impression on Arnold due to its brilliant colours and dazzling light across the landscape.

Arnold was not very distinguished at school and during his last few weeks was allowed to draw and paint the whole time, helped and encouraged by a teacher with an interest in art.