Known potter #33: Andrew Cope

Andrew Cope. Teaboat

This rocking teapot made by Andrew Cope in 1995 does hold water but getting the tea into it would pose something of a problem. The way it plays on the teapot form appealed to us  when we bought it at Beaver Galleries in the mid-1990s, and we also liked the wavy combed decoration and the inky-blue  drip glaze which, in various colours, is a signature feature of work from this period.

In 1995, Cope was based at Clayworks Australia in Dandenong, Victoria. As a talented young post-graduate of Monash University’s Caulfield Campus, he had been offered a residency there in 1993.  He ended up staying there for ten years, before setting up his own workshop at Byawatha in Rural Victoria in 2003. An article in Pottery in Australia/ The Journal of Australian Ceramics by Clayworks’ Fifi Campbell (42/3, 2003, pp. 80-81) describes the synergies that resulted from the ten year residency.

Andrew Cope. Gored vase

Our teapot, or at least the ‘teaboat’ exhibition series that it comes from, is mentioned in Cope’s entry in the 1996 Australian Potters’ Directory, as is his interest in synthetic wood ash glazes on manipulated thrown forms. David liked his work so much that he went back to buy this large (33 cm high) vase in shades of umber for my birthday.  It remains his favourite piece, but I secretly like the teaboat better.

Clayworks had a large oil-fueled kiln which gave depth and richness to Cope’s glazes.  A rectangular slab-built tray with combed surface and shino-type glaze attracted the H.R. Hughan Award in 1999, and was the starting point for a new series of trays and bowls (“Clayfever ’98 awards: The Victorian Ceramics Group’s Annual Exhibition. Review by Andrea Hylands”, Pottery in Australia, 38/1, 2000, pp.48-50).

Probably because he has been able to find a ready market for his work through regular solo exhibitions, Cope has a relatively small web presence – made even smaller recently when his Clayworks featured artist page was taken down in a website restructure. We haven’t had an opportunity to see his recent work, but  there is evidence that he is still busy making a living as a ceramic artist, selling work through Skepsi, demonstrating throwing at the Warrandyte Expo in 2003, and making containers for sale through high-end pantry outlets.

Postscript: I understand he now lives with his family on a small farm in Byawatha in northeastern Victoria, using an old diary as a studio: see Taste and Talk at Indigo Cheese Co – 6 Oct [2012]..

Andrew Cope. Teaboat. Base

Cope signs his work by incising his full name on the base or side, often with the year as well.

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8 comments

  1. Hi Kim, I’d say using a mark is the norm for those working in the Anglo-Oriental tradition. It lends authenticity for those in the know, while allowing the work to speak for itself as a crafted object.

    One could argue that potters working outside that tradition are more likely to sign their work – but it woud be hard to generalise. Eric Juckert and John Gilbert signed their works. Pippin Drysdale signed the undersides of her large 1980s platters but uses a mark on the tiny bases of her recent work – so the form itself can dictate the practice. Milton Moon signs his exhibition pieces but used an incised M on his production ware. Chris Sanders uses an impressed CS but signed his early work, and uses both the stamp and a signature on some of his later works.

    I think the way Andrew Cope emblazons his signature across the side of even quite small coffee mugs, under the handle, if he doesn’t want to disturb a rippled base, is just part of his individual style – perhaps a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the art/craft divide.

  2. Thank you. I started with a mark, but after my tutor Ben Richardson bought back some beautiful plates from France with a bold signature on their base, I started to sign my work as well. It seems to suit my nature better and once I have signed the work it feels finished.

  3. Looking forward to visiting the gallery and surprised location with Canberra is mentioned and not Melbourne. Melbourne being closer (I think) and so much larger.

    1. Hi Angela, we are 2 hours from Canberra by car and over 7 hours from Melbourne so our Melbourne visitors tend to be already based somewhere nearby, eg holidaying in Merimbula. .

      1. No matter. Do expect a visit. Your gallery is near Bega?

        Also need to say I am pleased the site is active — i.e., you saw my comment and replied.

        One further comment: I have a Cope pottery and was amused to see he had sketched ‘cope’ into the design of a pig.

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