Troika[pedia]

Troika 63 – 83 is the only book
about the hidden history of Troika.


The Book

Troika 63 – 83 is the culmination of two and a half years research by Ben Harris and Lawrence Illsley.

It intends to tell the full story of the development and the relationships of the people who worked there, from its inception in 1963 right up until the sad and rapid decline in the early 80’s.

The Exhibition

An exhibition held at the Penlee House Gallery celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Troika’s opening in 1963. It was the first solo exhibition in twenty years of the work of the group of artists known as Troika.

Pieces on display included examples rarely seen together and in such quantity.

Future study

Updates will appear here periodically as and when we are planning new pieces of research and study development on and around Troika pottery.


About the book: Troika 63 – 83

Troika began as a commercial pottery in March 1963. It was set up by potter Benny Sirota, sculptor Leslie Illsley and architect Jan Thompson.

Over time Troika’s work changed from functional craft objects to conceptual stand-alone pieces of sculpture, extending the ideas and practise of sculpture into the medium of clay. The use of clay at Troika meant they, as artists, had access to a medium of creation. By mass producing their output, they were able to allow more people access to the ownership of art objects. A process that is now known as ‘the democratisation of art.’

By 1970 the business had outgrown it’s humble studio in St Ives and moved to Newlyn in order to continue it’s expansion. Troika has had a major impact upon local history both as a creator and as an employer. Troika 63-83 will attempt to highlight the importance of these later years. It was in Newlyn that the highly unique textured range became fully developed and it was here that Troika produced work in such quantity that they were able to become the household name that they are today.

Although it is easy to see Benny and Leslie alone as the force which moulded Troika’s journey through two decades, it is important to recognise the others who influenced their history. To see Troika as a group we also need to understand the contributions made by those people who joined the collective; the casters, fettlers, decorators, and those who bought the work they produced. Troika 63-83 intends to highlight this group dynamic and show work produced by many different hands.


Talk to us

Get in Touch

Speak to Lawrence and Ben about any Troika enquiries, validating pieces in your collection, the book, or anything relating to the history and heritage of Troika.

Message us dreckly…


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