Ball Ceramic Design Studio

Known potter #41: Rick Ball

Ball Ceramic Design Studio. Lidded jar. Lid removed
Ball Ceramic Design Studio. Lidded jar. Base
Ball Ceramic Design Studio. Lidded jar

This lidded stoneware jarĀ  stamped ‘Ball Ceramic Design Studio’ was made by Rick Ball, a Canadian potter who studied ceramics at the Alberta College of Art and spent time travelling and working with other potters before coming to Australia. In the 1977 potters’ directory he is living in North Sydney, andĀ  working and teaching at the Willoughby Workshop Art Centre.

Our jar is slab-built with an unusual lid that fits onto the base like a jigsaw puzzle piece. When the lid is in place, it is over 35 cm tall, with a somewhat phallic form. The speckled gun metal green colouring at the top shades to ochre brightened by a diagonal line of white dots and a white band at the base. The number 7-85 on the base dates it to 1985. (A bottle acquired by the Lismore Regional Gallery in 1984 has a similar dating device).

Ball’s work from this period is featured in Pottery in Australia, 21/1 (1982), p.37; and Victor Brosz wrote an article about his transition from “From snow to surf” in Ceramics Monthly v. 32 (December 1984) p. 65+. I haven’t been able to read it yet as this issue of Ceramics Monthly is not available online, but I will add more details when the copy I ordered arrives.

As a resident of NSW, I have access to a range of subscription databases through the State Library. These include: the APA-FT service (via Informit), which indexes key Australian art and craft journals; the two WilsonWeb databases Art Full Text and Art Retrospective, which index international journals like Ceramics Monthly; and the Proquest Australia/NZ Reference Centre, which indexes newspapers and magazines.

Gradually, more and more print material is being digitised and made available online. The Sydney Morning Herald, for instance, is now almost fully digitised, with Trove providing access to issues up to 1954 and the SMH archive from 1955-1990. There are still gaps – Proquest only goes back to 1996 -but it is amazing what is now accessible in the serial literature. In this case, however, I wasn’t able to find the 1984 volume of Ceramics Monthly in any of the full text services. I haven’t been able to find anything more recent either, so if you know more please let me know.


Here is some additional information from the Ceramics Monthly article:

By 1984, Ball had been in Australia for almost nine years, bringing skills influenced by his training in ‘West Coast free form’. He taught at the Willoughby Workshop Art Centre for the first two years, holding exhibitions in Sydney and Canberra; then spent a year renting space at the Jam Factory in Adelaide before setting up his own studio and working towards his first exhibition in Adelaide in 1981. Early in 1982, he moved to Mudgeeraba on the Queensland Gold Coast and set up the Big Ball Pottery, employing another potter and a sales person to make and sell a line of functional ware through galleries, giftshops, and David Jones.