You have an exhibition, one hundred pots and one hundred people buy them… and you only meet one or two. The other ninety eight are gone forever and the pots with them, They may be broken and that worries me… particularly if it’s a pot that I really have put some time into… a lot of time and an excess of effort.

(Bernard Sahm, Nine Artist Potters, 1973, p.27).

As collectors of Australian contemporary pottery based for many years in Canberra but now living in Bemboka on the NSW south coast, David and I have been amongst those people and we now buy pottery that used to belong to some of them. Matching names with marks is an ongoing challenge. I started this blog with the idea of getting help from a wider community. In practice, it has become a way of documenting what we are both learning as we try to understand better the pots that pass through our hands.

For more about us and our Bemboka venture, see Judith Pearce and David Rofe, “New ways of downsizing,” Journal of Austalian Ceramics, 47/1, April 2008, pp. 86-87.


  1. I have just read a blunder in the text saying that Harold Hughan met his wife Bobby a nurse at Concord Hospital. The late Denis Colsey a very close friend was being assisted by Peter Rushforth with occupational therapy when he was in hospital(he was an English war veteran demobilised here in Australia. Peter Rushforth met his wife Bobby across the bed of Denis Colsey,while he was recovering. Concord hospital is in Sydney and I am sure that there cannot be two wives called Bobby and that they were both nurses.

  2. I have just completed a PhD dealing with the development of post war Australian studio pottery. I am also a second generation potter – my father is Milton Moon. Glad to see this blog started – feel free to contact me if you wish. Always nice to see pottery being collected and discussed.

    Damon Moon
    Willunga, SA

    08 8556 2716

  3. Hi Damon, I was really pleased to see that you had found my blog. I’ve read some of your articles and hope to read your PhD when it is made available online.

  4. Would you like to see a photo of a very cool piece of australian ceramics from the 1960’s, a black , small three legged centrepiece bowl ? regards, glen

  5. Hi Glen, yes, I would like to see this piece and to try and help with its identification (unless you already know the maker?). Some really interesting modernist pieces were made in the 1960s. Can you take a picture of it and its base and put it up on a photosharing service? I use flickr (http://www.flickr.com) but there are other services, eg Image Cave (http://imagecave.com). When the pictures are online just put the link in another reply.

  6. I have been trying to locate information on an old and long unseen friend, John Gilbert, who I met in the mid 60s and then lost track of. I met him while in Australia, 66-67. He came to the states in 1969, stayed with us for a few weeks in upstate NY, had a show at the university at which I taught, and left with us many pots and wonderful memories. I would like to find out something of his history since then, particularly if he is still around and where he might be.


    1. Dear Judith

      I am writing on behalf of QUT Art musuem, in Brisbane, as we are currently obtaining non-exclusive copyright for all the works within our collection.

      In our gallery we have three works by John Gilbert, which has a unknown listing from where it was purchased. Currently I have no contact information on this artist, and therefore our gallery has no way of contacting this artist to be able to post out the agreement.
      Would your collection from Australian Pottery have any way of contact John?
      Any help in being able to help contact this artist, would be greatly appreciated.


      Kirsty Hustwick | Intern | QUT Art Museum

  7. Hi Judith,
    just did what I think they call an “ego search” to see if my new web site came up in the results and found your new site which was great to see.Was also most amused and chuffed to see a picture of one of my sprigged,slip trailed,stoneware frog mugs.One of the many dozens of my production designs I have made in the last 25 years.Thanks,lincoln

  8. Hi Lincoln, I’m glad you don’t mind me using your frog as an avatar. I love your mugs and also enjoyed looking at the gallery on your new website. I hope some of these pieces make it back to Australia. – Judith

  9. Great site Judith. What a wonderful retirement plan. Bemboka is beautiful – will pop by one day (after 2009!). I might ask you one day too about a couple of marks I have in my very small collection. In the meantime, all the best to you and David with your venture. Cheers, Sue

  10. Evening Judith. My names Bill Powell.I’ve been potting all my life. Started at DDIAE Toowoomba in 1977. Studied with Tony Conway and John Hoare. I ran a search on my self on your wonderful site but alas I don’t exist so I thought I could remedy that. Here is a link to my webbsite http://www.billpowell.com.au/ If you would like anymore info I would be pleased to hear from you Thanks for your dedicated work Bill Powell

  11. Hi, I have a complete Dinner Setting for 6, plus a gravy jug and saucer, lidded casserole dish, cheese bell and platter by a potter “P.Watson”. All pieces are in as new condition – no chips or marks. I seem to recall that the setting was called “moon over the Mountain”
    I bought the setting in Newcastle around 1981-2. I think the potter came from the Dandenong area in Victoria.

    I also have a matching platter called “Reflections”, but unfortunately this has been broken (although repaired by my husband)

    I have uploaded photos onto flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/89935272@N00/sets/72157627414026582/

    Would appreciate any information you may have about this potter, and some idea of their worth. I have recently downsized, and am thinking of selling them. I am now located near to you, at Merimbula

  12. Just re-reading this. Interesting quote. I have been one to buy something nice and put it away to use for special occasions but am trying – in my dotage to change my philosophy and use lovely things. I understand Sahm’s point, but on the other hand, he should consider that items that have been broken have probably also been used and loved.

  13. Dear Judith, I just stumbled upon your blog and thought I would let you know that I recently opened a store/gallery in Clovelly called Chinaclay specialising in Australian ceramics. If you are ever in sydney, please come and visit.
    best wishes, Cath Fogarty

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