I came across the work of Western Australian ceramic artist Jenny Dawson this week while browsing through Ceramics in Western Australia, 1970-1999, a video published by Edith Cowan University in 1999. It turned out that we had a coffee set of hers in our own collection. Here it is, unwrapped and displayed on our gallery counter.
For a second summer we are having bounteous rain and David and I have been spending many hours in the garden – between visitors to the gallery – mowing, edging and weeding. This year I joined the five silver birches along the fenceline in this photograph into two long beds and planted some Ajuga Reptans to form a future dense groundcover. Other beds showing good form this season can be seen in this Flickr album.
Over the years we’ve acquired a number of pottery steamers made by Ian Sprague. They look like lidded pots but have a central chimney. By placing the steamer above a pot of boiling water, you can use it to cook rice, meat, fish or vegetables. This style of steamer is said to have originated in China where it has been in use for many centuries.
The two steamers in the picture above are both recent acquisitions. The steamer on the left has Ian Sprague’s personal and Mungeribar Pottery marks. The one on the right has a mark that we haven’t seen before; however, the style is so close to Ian Sprague’s early work that we are almost certain it was made at Mungeribar.
Sprague’s personal mark is a capital I over a horizontal separator and the Morse code for S—three dots. This mark has a similar form and may be a precursor.
This video shows a contemporary potter making a steamer in the same design.
Pineapple vase by Andrew Cope and ash glazed vase by Geoff Crispin, both 33 cm tall.
Christmas greetings to all our friends and visitors to our gallery and online shop. We are just three months into our seventh season and really enjoying living with our current “Pale and Interesting” exhibition. In the weeks leading up to Christmas most of our sales have been through the Internet but we are looking forward to a steady flow of visitors during January. We will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day morning but open during the rest of the holiday period. Don’t hesitate to call ahead if you need to come outside our regular opening hours.
Mystery potter #9: Tricuspid turns out to be Robert Mair.
David and I have at last safely received the Jeff Mincham piece that we bought from Mossgreen Auctions in July. It is dated c. 2006 and, at 76 cm high, is one of our largest pieces. (Only our Ian Sprague bullet form is taller, with a height of 110 cm.) With a bit of a stretch, our new Jeff Mincham fits into our “Pale and Interesting” theme for this season with its cream, tan and pale viridian colours and our main issue at the moment is to find the best place to display it. With a very narrow profile, it is probably best set against a wall but it also needs to be seen in the round. Moving it from one place to another will keep us happily engaged over the weekend when not entertaining visitors.
Our seventh season in Bemboka will open on Friday 2 October with “Pale and Interesting”, an exhibition using works from our collection to continue our exploration of glazes and decorative techniques with an emphasis on understated chromatic content. We have planned it as an antithesis to last season’s exhibition, “the Bold and the Beautiful”, although we have retained some works like Chantelle Del Rue’s snake vessel from 1993 that seem to work equally well in the new context.
We have some wonderful recent work by John Dermer, Shannon Garson, Debra Boyd Goggin, Kim Angh Nguyen, Kaye Pemberton, Tanya Roland, Joanna Searle and Steve Williams as well as older pieces by Les Blakebrough, Malcom Cooke, Sylvia Halpern, Peter Harris, Reg Preston, Paul Wynn and many more, including a number of works by mystery potters whose work we hope visitors may help us to identify during the year.
The combination of pieces in different shades of white, grey and pastel colours is working well and my main task now, when not out in the garden, is to write up the labels. A signature Jeff Mincham piece in shades of pale green that we bought recently is still with the courier and will hopefully arrive in time to take its place for the opening.
Illustrated above: Ian Rowe, Lidded jar; Les Blakebrough, Carafe; Unknown, Lidded jar; Zak’s Pottery, Lidded bowl; Hilary Barta, Vase; Sylvia Halpern, Two vases.
Our Season 6 exhibition, held from October 2014 to June 2015, was entitled “The Bold and the Beautiful” and featured colour in action through glazes, on-glazes, lustres, tinted clays and underglazes. This was probably our best exhibition yet. As well as featuring work from our collection and focusing our buying priorities on the Bold and Beautiful theme, we bought colourful new pieces from Janette Loughery and Dawn Oakford. One wall was devoted to black and white and we retained our Australiana cabinet just inside the door.
It was a wonderful year in the garden with plenty of spring rain and we hardly had to water, even in the summer months. We held a small musical event to open the season – not a River Music Fair this year because new neighbours were building a house on the block next door! In November, our son was married and we had a big family wedding on the property.
In terms of business, we noticed a significant reduction in the number of visitors to the gallery compared to past years. Some wonderful people came, including many repeat visitors, but most of our sales during the year were pieces that we had listed in our online shop. We are on our winter break now and I’ve started to list and pack away the Bold and Beautiful pieces in preparation for the new exhibition. We will let you know more about this in a few week’s time.