Having just added a blossom jar by Janet Mansfield to our online catalogue, I decided to check what else we had of hers in our collection. Nothing, I am afraid. She is another potter whose work we either did not encounter in our years as collectors in Canberra, or could not afford. Works by her also rarely turn up on the secondary market. There are only two or three records in the various art sale digests. So we are now actively on the lookout for more pieces.
Back in 2008, we did buy this small (14 cm high) wood-fired vase with a partial salt glaze and sgraffito decoration when it was listed on ebay as by Janet Mansfield. It has been packed away in a box and I pulled it out, interested to see if it was, indeed, one of her works.
As well as editing the printed directories of Australian potters published from 1977-1990, Mansfield also shares the distinction with Janet Barriskill, Janet DeBoos and Ivan Englund of having a consistent directory presence over the years, with entries in eight of the directories. Her mark is shown in all the entries as ‘JM’ with the characters clearly separated.
In this case, the mark is quite different. The two characters share a stem. The J’s horizontal stroke extends across the M, which has a shallow middle section The closest match I have been able to find is a mark used by the New Zealand potter Jan Moresby, but as far as I can see she is not a wood firer.
Jan Moresby has let me know that this is indeed one of her works made in the early 1980s at Craft potters, Hope, Nelson, NZ, and fired in Bob Heatherbell’s wood-fired kiln.