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.

On starting at the King Street China Works, Arnold had decided to enrol for evening classes at Derby School of Art, attending every night after work. He had started a Ministry of Education art course, and when he was made unemployed, the principal at the art school offered to take him on full-time with a view to eventually taking the Ministry exams. The course included life drawing, drawing from antique, perspective, architecture, memory drawing and creative design.

Students were also expected to take an interest in a craft, and because Arnold wanted to study sculpture, the principal set up a class specifically with him in mind, which presented Arnold with a wonderful opportunity. When he wasn't working in the school, Arnold would be out and about drawing and painting in the Derbyshire countryside and remote parts of Staffordshire. He traveled by bike, and always carried his pencils and watercolours with him. As an art student, the possibility of becoming an artist in the future gave added zest to his explorations.

As a 'mature student' Arnold didn't always find it easy to accept some of the opinions and ideas of his tutors. He couldn't understand why they hadn't been taken to local art galleries to see work done by Wright and Derby, for example, or why they were taught in History of Art classes that Gaugin and Van Gogh were infinitely superior to the old painters. Arnold had been trained to appreciate the work done by the past masters, and he felt that as students they were being denied access to their wonderful works of art. During this time, there was great speculation about the possibility of a second world war with Germany. Arnold was a natural conscientious objector and had already decided that in the event of a war he would refuse to fight.

The course he was taking at Derby School of Art normally took three years to complete, but Arnold was able to take the exams after just two, and in 1937 he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London. The scholarship was for three years to study sculpture with a prize of £100 a year to live on. Arnold studied drawing and modelling from life, design and carving, and was greatly impressed by the immense sculptures displayed at the RCA. He would walk everywhere with his sketchbooks, and would wander around the city sketching in particular the wealth of monuments he found in parks, churches and cemeteries. It was the monuments rather than the buildings which he found most relevant to his work in sculpture. Arnold never spent unnecessarily, keeping careful tabs on his expenditure, and he managed to get by by doing odd bits of work for people, particularly during the holidays.

1940 was Diploma year, and Arnold was awarded the Silver Medal, the top award at the RCA. This also included a travelling scholarship which he was unable to take due to the outbreak of war the previous year. Arnold went back home to stay with his mother in Clayton and urgently needed employment. During the summer of 1940, he was offered the job as Head of Stoke Art School by Gordon Forsyth who by this time was the Superintendent of Art Instruction for Stoke on Trent. Having been in this post for only a short time, Arnold was asked to resign as the fact that he was a conscientious objector had been reported to the authorities.