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The Doris Brown Collection: Watercolours & Sketchbooks

Fareeha Ahmad

Doris Brown’s Beginnings

Doris Brown (1933-2023), renowned and talented watercolour artist and teacher, showed an interest and an aptitude for art from a young age.

At just five years old, her father entered a painting she had made into a children’s art competition. The painting, which was of a large galleon, won first prize, but the lack of a car or an appropriate bus route meant she and her father had to travel by pony and trap to Market Drayton in order to collect the prize.

Doris Brown S.W.A., pictured in 2019. (Credit:

Pursuing a career in art, Doris Brown enrolled at the Burslem School of Art, where she was appreciative of her education, despite the lack of focus on watercolours – her one true artistic passion. Doris Brown then found employment, training as a ceramics designer for Josiah Wedgwood. However, this avenue was cut short when she developed dermatitis, leading her to part ways.

Doris Brown then turned to teaching, initially setting up a watercolours class at the Workers Educational Association, at Barlaston. Short-lived as it was, it served as a springboard to a teaching career which, for over 50 years, benefited many, her value as a teacher garnering her students’ adulation.

Fellow watercolour artist and ceramics designer, Reginald Haggar, who would become a friend of Doris Brown. (Credit:

Her Works & Friendship with Reginald Haggar

Lot 502 is this watercolour on paper ‘Lapley Village Church, Staffordshire’, by Doris Brown S.W.A. It’s estimated at £30-£60.

A number of Doris Brown’s works will be featured in a timed online auction, to be held from 1st May and ending on the 12th. Also included will be items from her personal estate, as well as pieces from other local artists including Reginald Haggar, with whom Brown was firm friends.

With an estimate of £30-£60, Lot 514 in the timed auction is this Doris Brown S.W.A. watercolour on paper, titled ‘Outgate Cumbria’.

Lot 516 in the timed sale is this lovely Doris Brown S.W.A. watercolour on paper ‘Potter’s Wharf. Longport’. Estimate £30-£60.

During her tenure, Doris Brown’s friendship with the notable painter and ceramics designer was owed in no small part to their shared enthusiasm for the watercolour medium.

Lot 556 is this collection of five rural scenes and landscapes in watercolour, by Doris Brown S.W.A. It will be offered with an estimate of £20-£40.

In addition to examples of her finished watercolour paintings, there are also collections of Doris Brown’s sketchbooks, reference scrapbooks and reference photo albums. Lot 560 is one such lot, to be offered with an estimate of £20-£40.

Though originally from East Anglia, Haggar lived in the Potteries for 70 years. Fascinated with the shape of the area’s myriad bottle ovens, he enjoyed weekly excursions with Doris, as she took him to various locations in the Potteries, to paint the industrial landscape.

One of several George Haggar pieces included in the sale is this watercolour on paper of a country landscape with a view of a church & village. Lot 522 is estimated at £40-£80.

Also featured in the sale are several works by local artist June Inskip. This lot of six floral watercolours, Lot 553, will be offered with an estimate of £20-£40.

Doris Brown’s Legacy

Doris Brown’s first teaching role, at the Workers Educational Association at Barlaston, was so successful that some students left other classes in order to join, which Brown believed led to her class’ premature closure. Despite this, Doris Brown’s art class at the WEA left an indelible mark in the eyes of her students.

So keen were they to continue their studies that they sought out rooms from which she could teach, resulting in the establishment of the Oulton Water Colour Society and the Blythe Bridge Watercolour Society.

Also known as the Wedgwood Memorial College, the Workers Educational Association at Barlaston was originally housed at Barlaston Hall from 1945, but relocated in 1949 due to dry rot, to these buildings in the village of Barlaston. ‘The Limes’ (left) and Estoril House (right). (Credit: &

Steve Rowley, a student of Brown’s for roughly 50 years, said of her in 2019: “It has been my life since I started at nine. Doris is an inspiration and she’s a great tutor. I’m still picking up tips from her.”

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