Reading about the forthcoming John Eagle retrospective exhibition prompted me to look at what we have of his in our collection. This wide-rimmed 1980s platter is the largest piece, at 43.5 cm in diameter. It is glazed a dusky pink colour, edged in dark blue and decorated with hand painted gum leaves and flowers in different shades of blue and white. The base is signed with his distinctive scrawl.
John Eagle was born in Melbourne in 1942. While still a student studying for the Diploma of Fine Art at RMIT, his raku work in stoneware and porcelain was selected for inclusion in Crafts Victoria ’75 at the National Gallery of Victoria.
After graduating in 1976, he taught briefly before establishing a studio at Linton, Victoria, and becoming a full-time potter, earning ‘Craft Mark’ accreditation for his work.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, he used a range of clays and glazes in functional work featuring well-thrown forms, monochrome glazes and brushwork decoration in a contrasting colour, also used to delineate rims and edges. This 30 cm wide 1978 platter in shades of umber is a good example, with its earlier, slightly less abstracted signature.
In 1988, Eagle was awarded the Australian Bicentennial Art-Craft Award for Functional Pottery.
In the 1990s, he began to specialise in copper-red glazes on stoneware and porcelain, influenced by Chinese Ch’ing Dynasty ceramics. We have several vases from his copper red range, in which he used the same rich copper red glaze and blue brushwork on different forms to allow buyers to collect a set of closely-related pieces. The peach bloom colour of our large platter, with its blue brushwork foreshadows the colourway of these pieces.
In January 2007, Eagle relocated from Linton to Ararat where he now lives and works. In November 2009, he turned full circle, exhibiting recent raku work and running a two-day raku workshop at the Ararat Regional Art Gallery as part of Ceramics Victoria’s 40th Anniversay celebrations.
The association with the Ararat Regional Art Gallery continues with the retrospective exhibition. David and I can’t make it , so please tell us about it if you are able to go.
- Ararat Regional Gallery. Raku Pottery Workshop. 9 December 2009 (viewed 15 May 2010).
- The Australian potters’ directory / edited by Sue Buckle. [Crows Nest, N.S.W.] : The Potters’ Society of Australia, 1996, p. 49.
- Celebrating the master : Part I & II 2004. Melbourne : Skepsi on Swanston Gallery, 2004, p. 60.
- Flames of Creation – the pottery of John Eagle. Ararat Regional Art Gallery, 20 May to 27 June 2010.
- Linton Studio (John Eagle). Internet Archive, 2002-2005.
- Potters Online. Artist details. John Eagle. (viewed 15 May 2010).
- Trove – [Craft Association of Victoria : Australian Gallery File] (lists the participants in Crafts Victoria 75 : a survey of contemporary Victorian Crafts. Publisher/Date: [Melbourne] : [Craft Association of Victoria], 1975.