Doug Lawrie

Mystery potter #47: Doug Lawrie

Unknown. Shallow bowl

Unknown. Shallow bowl
Unknown. Shallow bowl. Base

For this season’s exhibition, we have set up the floor of the main gallery to showcase platters and large bowls. This bowl – 12.5 cm high and 37 cm in diameter – was one of our first choices for a sequence of taller pieces at one end of the display.  It has the look of a late 1960s or early 1970s piece in the Anglo-oriental style. The body is a grogged stoneware clay with a feldspar glaze. Inside, a hand-painted umber band around the rim frames a central area decorated with fluent brushwork arabesques inside two double circles. The decoration continues on the outside as floral motifs suspended from a single circle.

It came to us through the collection of Dick and Barbie Seddon, auctioned on site by Mossgreen in 2007 at a time when we were in Melbourne and able to attend. Included in the catalogue were works by David and Hermia Boyd, John Gilbert, Milton Moon and Marea Gazzard. These all sold for very high prices to other bidders. However, towards the end of the auction we were able to win three unattributed pieces that had only been listed on paper handouts.  After emptying dry leaves and dust from these last-minute additions to the auction, we found that we had acquired a Col Levy bowl and a Brian Kemp vase – but this piece was unsigned. Given its provenance, there is a likelihood that it is the work of a well-known potter, but at the moment it remains a mystery.


A fellow collector has identified this as the work of the American potter Doug Lawrie. Her pieces are unmarked as well, but they are clearly made by the same hand. Lawrie was working near Kyoto, Japan, in 1963 when Les Blakebrough visited there, and later spent time in Australia as a visiting potter at Sturt Pottery in 1969.  I’m guessing our pieces date from this time.