Ian Smith

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.

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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