Known potter # 31: Cynthia Mitchell

Cynthia Mitchell. Dolomite jug

Cynthia Mitchell. Dolomite jug. Marks

This spherical pourer with lug handle and short cylindrical spout is half-glazed in a silky matt white which enhances the warm-coloured stoneware body. Under the glaze, there is a  band of incised decoration.  The mark on the base is an impressed CM next to an impressed T.  This is Cynthia Mitchell’s mark, with the  T standing for Tasmania, where Mitchell was born in 1930.

Mitchell is mainly a self-taught potter. Her interest in craft was awakened while travelling in Europe after her marriage. On returning home, she met Mylie Peppin and started attending her adult eduction classes. In 1962, she visited Sturt Potteries in Mittagong, and became interested in stoneware, in using local materials and in the philosophies of Bernard Leach and the Anglo-Oriental tradition. In 1963, she set up a studio at her home at Mount Nelson, Hobart, and started making wheel thrown functional stoneware and relief wall plaques, using local dolomite and Coles Bay granite, and exploring the varying effects that could be achieved while only using a small number of glazes.  A visit to China in 1975 with the Australian Potters’ Delegation introduced her to ancient Chinese peasant potteries and forms.

Our pourer is a good example of her work, with its simple form made of local materials, its dolomite glaze and its incised surface treatment.  We have acquired a number of other pieces by Mitchell over the last six years. In fact, we had twenty at the last count.  Prior to that, we had been unaware of her work, which was sold through the Saddlers Court Gallery in Richmond, Tasmania. I assume that, like many potters active in the 1970s and early 1980s, she was able to make a living selling her work locally, and saw no need to exhibit more widely.

Mitchell has entries in the 1974, 1977 and 1981 potters’ directories and is featured in Peta Collins, “Seven Tasmanian potters”, Pottery in Australia, 16/1(1977):10-11.  I haven’t been able to find any more recent information.

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2 comments

  1. Just a very slight correction – the location of the granite that Cynthia Mitchell used is Coles Bay ( rather than Coals Bay ). I still use this material as part of a suite of local materials that I make my glazes from.

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