These three bottles with chun over tenmoku glazes are examples of recent work by Christine Ball. We bought them last year on the way back from a trip to Brisbane. Made using resist techniques, the patterns on the two cylindrical bottles are like shell accretions, oceanic in nature, while those on the spherical bottle are like contours, with the muted colours set off by the white of the clay in all three examples.
Ball lives and works in Uralla, about 24 kilometres south of Armidale. She has a shopfront on the main street – the Barking Dog Gallery – where she also operates a framing service and sells posters and old frames. Her workshop is just behind the gallery, within hearing distance of the door bell, so that she can be throwing, decorating or firing pieces in between customers.
When we first stepped into the gallery, we thought for a moment that we were looking at the work of many different potters but, apart from some pieces by Geoff Crispin, all of the pottery on display was Ball’s. After years of making a living as a potter, she is taking time to please herself by experimenting with different clays, glazes and techniques.
She began potting full-time in 1975, after obtaining a Preliminary Diploma of Art at Seaforth TAFE in 1971 and a Ceramics Certificate at East Sydney Technical College in 1972-73, then spending a year with Derek Smith at his Beecroft Pottery in 1974. She set up her first pottery at Wheeler Heights using a workshop grant from the Australia Council and, at that time began teaching part-time at Brookvale TAFE. She moved to Myoora Road, Terrey Hills , in 1978, and in 1981 moved again, this time to Uralla, where she opened the Myoora Pottery Craft Shop, renamed the Barking Dog Gallery in 1993.
The influence of Derek Smith, who was one of her teachers at ESTC as well as her mentor at Beecroft, can be seen in early works like this one, which play with geometric forms and dry glazes. In fact, for a while I mistook the ‘cb’ mark which Ball used from 1972-1978 for a similar mark used by Smith at Beecroft, illustrated in Geoff Ford’s Encyclopedia of Australian Potters’ Marks. It has only been quite recently, with Ball’s help, that I have sorted out the two marks. Realising how difficult it is to identify and date early works, Ball has published a card with descriptions of the marks she has used over the years:
Ball is an exhibiting member of the Society of Arts and Crafts of NSW and also has entries in the 1982-1988 potters’ directories. Like many potters, she is a collector herself, with a house full of examples of her own work and pieces made by colleagues and former students.