Vladimir Tichy in Identifying Australian Pottery

Vladimir Tichy. Yoga

Maiden Mount, one of the founding members of the Identifying Australian Pottery group on Flickr, has just added a detailed topic on the ceramic sculptor Vladimir Tichy, who arrived in Australia from Czechoslovakia as a political refugee in 1968. The information, mostly obtained from Tichy himself, gives us a greater understanding of the influence of European emigrants on the diversity of work being produced in Sydney in the 1970s and 1980s, and Tichy’s significance as an architectural ceramicist.

There is little on the public record about Tichy’s life and work and many of his architectural commissions (like those of Tom Sanders) have been demolished. Janet Mansfield, interviewed when one of Tichy’s murals was rescued from demolition in 2002, commented that his work was undervalued and that he had been a leader in Australia and an example to the ceramic arts community at the time the mural was made [1].  It is good news, therefore, to hear from Maiden Mount that his personal papers and photographs are likely to find a home at the State Library of NSW, and that negotiations are underway to redress his lack of representation in public collections.

We don’t yet have an example of Tichy’s work in our own collection, but I was taken by this image of one of his ceramic sculptures entitled ‘Yoga’ from the Sculptors Society Australia Square Exhibition Gallery 2006. I was sitting in a very similar Matsyendrasana pose just last night at the Bemboka Primary School where I ‘enjoy’ yoga classes twice a week.

  1. Kerrie O’Connor, “Angel in overalls is now a Czech mate”, Illawarra Mercury, 8 June 2002





  1. Nice post Judith … And I do love that yoga pose sculpture too though it looks somewhat more elegant than my attempts at that pose. Though, perhaps if I’d been in it as long as that sculpture has I’d look more natural too!

      1. Yes … And it has that timeless somewhat primitive but also modern look. I also like how he manages to convey grace despite the form not being the traditional softly curvaceous form.

        1. I worked for Vladimer and Kevin when they were at seven hills at the Nortile plant for a period of about 2 years.
          They were trying to commercialise his designs in conjunctin with Norbrick.
          The clay had a very low salt absorption rate and they were trying to promote the tiles as suitable for around swimming pools.
          His designs to me as a 22 year old were a bit out there. I still have 1 of the tiles called a montage design. It was from a batch where it was over fired. The glaze was a rutile tan break and it came out a golden sort of colour.
          I also have one of the small square ashtrays with glass in the base that we used to produce
          He had his studio off the main factory.
          While I was there I remember he made the mural for theTNT headquarters building.
          He used to love the glaze that is on the yoga figurine above. We called it basic white.
          But for his personal items he either fired it at higher temperatures, applied it extra thick or added something to it to darken it a bit.
          I have seen his work in Muesum station under walkway and I think there was a mural at Castle Hill RSL or and perhaps (we are talking over 15 /20 years ago) at Rooty hill RSL.
          I also saw about 5 or 10 years ago someone selling his ceramics on the opera house foreshore.
          Unfortunately I didn’t get to chat.

          I’m not sure why he never became mainstream. It was always implied that he was quite a big wig in Czechoslovakian ceramics, and obviously they were winning big commissions, unfortunately for him the respect and prestige that he deserved or craved never translated to Australia.
          Sometimes I think it was because of his thorny personality.
          I heard that both he and Kevin had passed on from someone who was living up the road from kevins wife.

          It would be good to see a Wikipedia page on him.

          1. Hi mark, I worked at seven hills as well, with Judy and Cheryl, seems so long ago now

          2. Hi Margaret
            It Was a long time ago. I would estimate 1985- 1987. 35ish years ago.
            Its a bit sad how the whole Nortile thing fell apart.
            I can’t quite place you, but I remember Eddy, Rick Bigwood, Joseph, Titchy’s preferred assistant, and quite a few of the guys on the floor.
            Remember those ashtrays we used to turn out, orange, green and amber.
            Square and round, Big and small.
            That tan clay with a texture to it, iron wash and basic white glaze on top of the vertical striations, they looked very nice.
            Ashtrays wouldn’t be big sellers these days of course.

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