This 26 cm high stoneware vase is a particularly fine example of the work produced by Redbyrne Potteries in Shepparton, Victoria, from 1975-2002.
Redbyrne Potteries was located at 225 Old Dookie Road, Shepparton. It produced a wide range of well-thrown functional stoneware, mostly with a satiny red-brown glaze. Our vase was made by Robert Waterson, the owner of the pottery and the designer of its production range. It has his personal stamp and is also signed in oxide. Here, the red-brown glaze is enhanced with blue-green overglazing that complements the well-thrown, rounded baluster form. Records in the State Library of Victoria show that Waterson (1944- ) exhibited as a member of the Victorian Ceramic Group in the 1970s and 1980s.
Throwers who worked for Waterson at Redbyrne included Gilbert Buchanan, Chris Cheer, Graeme Day, Steven Elliott, Robert Henderson, Mark Lepp, Cathy Thompson, Noel Townsend, Robert Waterson and Craig Willis. Works were impressed ‘Redbyrne Potteries Shepparton’ or, as with Waterson’s own work, ‘Redbyrne Potteries’ preceded by the individual potter’s name.
Gilbert Buchanan was one of the ceramic artists represented in the Ceramics Victoria Inc. 40th Anniversary Award Exhibition in 2009. The brief biography in the catalogue says that he worked at the Old Ballarat Pottery as well as the Redbyrne Potteries. He has also exhibited quite recently at Hullabaloo Studio in Malmsbury, Victoria.
The other Redbyrne potters I’ve identified so far are known only through their work, and I haven’t yet been able to establish a timeline to help with dating. This tenmoku platter with white slip decoration by Mark Lepp is the only work with a Redbyrne Potteries mark that I have seen so far without the characteristic red-brown glaze, and I suspect that it dates from the 1990s.
Twenty-seven years is a long time for a production pottery to operate. In its later years, directory listings show that it specialised in garden and nursery products. In its heyday, it was “one of the largest producers of hand-thrown pottery in Victoria and probably Australia”, according to the Greater Shepparton Botanic Gardens Association, Inc. in a submission to preserve Parkside Gardens as a heritage site. (Redbyrne Potteries had made the plaques with donors’ names under park seats).
For such a large and long-lived establishment, relatively little has been published about it and I hope this post will invoke some memories to add to the public record.
Postscript: I am now in touch with Robert Waterson, who is working on a brief history of the Redbyrne Potteries for Australian Potters’ Marks.