Cynthia Mitchell

A stream of coffee pots

Cynthia Mitchell. Coffee pot

Cynthia Mitchell. Coffee pot.


Regular browsers of our online shop may have been bemused by the stream of coffee pots I have been listing recently. I am giving the workroom shelves their annual dust, starting with Alcove C, which is devoted mainly to drinking vessels. This is a lengthy process not helped by the cats who, as soon as they see an empty shelf, want to sit on it. I don’t know how it is but there always seems to be a small collection of pots left over on the floor when I’ve finished  rearranging a shelf.  The only thing to be done is to put them back into storage, making sure they are listed before they are packed away.

Known potter # 31: Cynthia Mitchell

Cynthia Mitchell. Dolomite jug

Cynthia Mitchell. Dolomite jug. Marks

This spherical pourer with lug handle and short cylindrical spout is half-glazed in a silky matt white which enhances the warm-coloured stoneware body. Under the glaze, there is a  band of incised decoration.  The mark on the base is an impressed CM next to an impressed T.  This is Cynthia Mitchell’s mark, with the  T standing for Tasmania, where Mitchell was born in 1930.

Mitchell is mainly a self-taught potter. Her interest in craft was awakened while travelling in Europe after her marriage. On returning home, she met Mylie Peppin and started attending her adult eduction classes. In 1962, she visited Sturt Potteries in Mittagong, and became interested in stoneware, in using local materials and in the philosophies of Bernard Leach and the Anglo-Oriental tradition. In 1963, she set up a studio at her home at Mount Nelson, Hobart, and started making wheel thrown functional stoneware and relief wall plaques, using local dolomite and Coles Bay granite, and exploring the varying effects that could be achieved while only using a small number of glazes.  A visit to China in 1975 with the Australian Potters’ Delegation introduced her to ancient Chinese peasant potteries and forms.

Our pourer is a good example of her work, with its simple form made of local materials, its dolomite glaze and its incised surface treatment.  We have acquired a number of other pieces by Mitchell over the last six years. In fact, we had twenty at the last count.  Prior to that, we had been unaware of her work, which was sold through the Saddlers Court Gallery in Richmond, Tasmania. I assume that, like many potters active in the 1970s and early 1980s, she was able to make a living selling her work locally, and saw no need to exhibit more widely.

Mitchell has entries in the 1974, 1977 and 1981 potters’ directories and is featured in Peta Collins, “Seven Tasmanian potters”, Pottery in Australia, 16/1(1977):10-11.  I haven’t been able to find any more recent information.

More on sources

Ford, Geoff, Encyclopedia of Australian Potter's Marks, p.204 (detail)

Geoff Ford’s Encyclopedia of Australian Potter’s Marks documents potters and potteries active before 1975 but includes marks used after this period. I thought it might be useful to provide an index of entries in the encyclopedia for potters active in the 1960s-1970s and beyond. Having marks recorded for these potters provides a good start but collectors will need to go to a wide range of other directories to cover the field, and many marks are still unrecorded.

Alexander, Doug
Ardern, Elsa
Beck, Robert
Blakebrough, Les
Bovill, Gillian
Brereton, Kevin
Carnegie, Francis
Douglas, Molly
Dunn, Phyl
Englund, Ivan
Englund, Patricia
Garnsey, Wanda
Garrett, John
Gazzard, Marea
Gilbert, John
Greenaway, Victor
Halpern, Artur
Halpern, Stanislav
Halpern, Sylvia

Hick, William
Hughan, Harold
Juckert, Eric
Kemety, John
Keys, Eileen
Laycock, Helen
Laycock, Peter
Leckie, Alex
Le Grand, Henri
Levy, Colin
Lowe, Allan
Maddock, Beatrice
McConnell, Carl
McLaren, Gus
McLaren, Betty
McMeekin, Ivan
Memmott, Harry
Mitchell, Cynthia
Moon, Milton

Pate, Klytie
Peterkin, Les
Preston, Reg
Rushforth, Peter
Sadler, Ken
Sahm, Bernard
Sayers, Joan
Schulze, Robert A.
Shaw, Edward
Smith, Derek
Smith, Ian (SA)
Sprague, Ian
Taylor, David
Travis, Peter
Tuckson, Margaret
Warren, Peggy
Welch, Robin
Wilton, Charles