Mystery potter #47: Doug Lawrie

Unknown. Shallow bowl

Unknown. Shallow bowl
Unknown. Shallow bowl. Base

For this season’s exhibition, we have set up the floor of the main gallery to showcase platters and large bowls. This bowl – 12.5 cm high and 37 cm in diameter – was one of our first choices for a sequence of taller pieces at one end of the display.  It has the look of a late 1960s or early 1970s piece in the Anglo-oriental style. The body is a grogged stoneware clay with a feldspar glaze. Inside, a hand-painted umber band around the rim frames a central area decorated with fluent brushwork arabesques inside two double circles. The decoration continues on the outside as floral motifs suspended from a single circle.

It came to us through the collection of Dick and Barbie Seddon, auctioned on site by Mossgreen in 2007 at a time when we were in Melbourne and able to attend. Included in the catalogue were works by David and Hermia Boyd, John Gilbert, Milton Moon and Marea Gazzard. These all sold for very high prices to other bidders. However, towards the end of the auction we were able to win three unattributed pieces that had only been listed on paper handouts.  After emptying dry leaves and dust from these last-minute additions to the auction, we found that we had acquired a Col Levy bowl and a Brian Kemp vase – but this piece was unsigned. Given its provenance, there is a likelihood that it is the work of a well-known potter, but at the moment it remains a mystery.


A fellow collector has identified this as the work of the American potter Doug Lawrie. Her pieces are unmarked as well, but they are clearly made by the same hand. Lawrie was working near Kyoto, Japan, in 1963 when Les Blakebrough visited there, and later spent time in Australia as a visiting potter at Sturt Pottery in 1969.  I’m guessing our pieces date from this time.



  1. My father, Denis Hanna, now in his 90s, describes himself as ‘physician and potter’. He specialised in adult medicine, and was one of the first doctors in New Zealand to use insulin to treat diabetics.

    Anyway, from the 1950s through to the 1970s he was a very active potter, working in stoneware with oil fired kilns in Auckland, NZ. He was taught by his close friends Len Castle and Barry Brickell.

    In 1964 he visited Japan, and was able to meet Shoji Hamada, and watch the master at work. While in Kyoto he purchased a pot made by Doug Lawrie from a local craft shop.

    The pot is a 4-sided press-moulded stoneware bottle with a thrown neck / top. It has a rich reddish-brown glaze with a faint brushwork design on each face. It is unmarked and is about 20 cm in height.

    My father is still very fond of this pot. Although he never met Doug Lawrie, his impression was that Doug was a male potter.

  2. Hi Jeffrey, thank you for telling us about your father and his association with Doug Lawrie. I love the way there is a story behind each pot.

  3. I lived in Kyoto during the time Doug Lawrie was active and visited his studio and kiln on many occasions. I have a dozen or so of his best work. Doug is back in CA and I am here in Miami.

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