Ian Jones

Travellers’ tales

Mitsuo Shoji, pair of dipping bowls

Last week David and I took a detour to visit Cudgegong Gallery in Gulgong, NSW, on our way to attend a family celebration in Canberra. We drove up the Princes Highway, rested overnight in Sydney, then pushed on through the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Mudgee to Gulgong. It was a long drive but made interesting by David’s knowledge of the postal history of each town we passed through. (He also collects NSW numeral cancellations.)

Gulgong is famous for the white kaolin clay found in the district. Ivan McMeekin brought his students there in the 1960s when he was teaching at the University of NSW. Chester Nealie and Janet Mansfield have studios in the area and a ceramics conference has been held there every three years since 1977. In addition to these attractions (for visitors not quite so interested in pottery), Gulgong is an old goldmining town where Henry Lawson lived in his early years and it is also part of the Mudgee wine region.

Cudgegong Gallery is located in a converted bank building in the old part of town. It was opened in 2004 as a place to exhibit and sell quality ceramics. It is the kind of gallery that you would hope to find in a capital city. When we arrived, there was a between seasons showing in the main exhibition space, together with a number of Ian Jones wood-fired pieces left over from a previous exhibition. A side room exhibited pieces from the region and we were also allowed to rummage through the back room.

The dipping bowls at the head of this entry were one of our purchases. They were made by Mitsuo Shoji for the 2008 ‘Dinner in the Gallery’ an event held annually by the gallery. Guests dine on tableware commissioned for the dinner and can take the settings away.

On the way to Gulgong we visited Ian Smith at Falls Gallery in Wentworth Falls and Susie McMeekin in Katoomba. On the way home, we visited Lue Pottery at Lue, where everything is made from local materials; and Lino Alvarez at the La Paloma Pottery at Hill End, the studio where Gary Shead collaborated with Alvarez on the Ern Malley project. We also took in the travelling exhibition A Secret History of Blue and White at the Bathurst Regional Gallery and visited Ian Jones at the Old St Luke’s Studio in Gundaroo and Malcolm Cooke at the Art Shed Studio in Tharwa.

Gulgong trip. Selection of purchases

We arrived home with a car full of pottery and our heads full of impressions. The selection of purchases in the image above includes, from left to right: Lino Alvarez, raku vessel; Malcom Cooke, carved vase; Susie McMeekin, bowl with red glass centre; Ian and Annie Smith, Shino vase with hand painted frog; Lue Pottery, flattened vase; Ian Jones, woodfired mug. The marks may be viewed here.