David and I were very pleased to find this tall (28 cm high) sgraffito vase by Jim and Jean Tyler on eBay this month. We have acquired a number of pieces by this couple over the last few years, and find their work very appealing. In this example, there is a stong two-dimensional aspect to the decoration, which is only on one side, but the cylindrical form also works as a carved vessel. The drawing is a combination of geometric and organic forms, with some passages gouged quite strongly out of the clay.
Jim Tyler (1932-2001) was a teacher, potter, painter and architect based near Gosford, NSW. He studied architecture at Cape Town University, graduating in 1956,then practiced in Zimbabwe and London, before migrating to Australia with his wife Jean in 1959. They settled in Wollongong, then Wagga Wagga, where they both studied pottery in 1969 at the Wagga Wagga Technical College. During the 1970s they relocated to the Gosford area and set up a production pottery, producing functional ware and ceramic sculptures with the characteristic sgraffito decoration and soda ash vapour glaze seen in our vase, which also uses a pale grey slip as a canvas for the decoration.
The Tylers marked their work with a painted T shaped like the Greek letter Psi, accompanied by two dots.
From around 1977, Jim started to paint regularly and was engaged as artist in residence at Brewarrina NSW in 1987. In 2004, a retrospective exhibition of his work was held at Gosford Regional Gallery. The notes accompanying the exhibition are the main source for the information above. The couple also have entries in the 1977 and 1981 potters’ directories.