The road from Canberra across the treeless Monaro Plains and down Brown Mountain opens into a green valley edged with blue mountains and dotted with black and white cows. This winter has been so dry that the paddocks were as brown as we had seen them until a few weeks ago, when the weather finally broke. Our umbrella, which I placed in this vase as one of my first actions on moving into our new house, had spent the entire winter there, and we were very pleased to have to use it on our weekly shopping trip to Bega.
The vase, at 48 cm high, makes an excellent umbrella stand. It is glazed in graduated earth and sky colours with deeply scored tree-of-life decoration. The base is incised ‘J Jackman’ but we knew nothing else about the maker when we acquired it, and could only attribute it to ‘unknown’ (umbrella not included) when we opened the gallery.
A fellow collector has just got in touch to let us know that our umbrella stand was made by the Geelong potter Alfred John Jackman (1911-2006). He says:
Alfred John Jackman affectionately known as Jack was a Bombadier navigator in world war 2 and a primary school teacher who died in 2006 at the age of 95. He came to Geelong from Melbourne in 1957 and taught at Norlane and Corio South primary schools. When his son Bill began making pottery in 1962 Jack joined in and according to Bill “took to it like a duck to water”.
He loved to experiment with all types of glazes, once even adding chick peas for that special effect . The peas would explode under the heat (but stink the house out). He enjoyed adding to his hand thrown pieces. He did slab type square pottery late in his career and also produced mozaic sculptures. His work sold at many galleries. The “Salt” gallery in Queenscliff, “Eagles nest” at Airys Inlet and the Ryrie street Gallery in Geelong. His work was popular due its quirkiness and variation of glazes.
He gave pottery away after a 30 year career in 1992 when his back was too sore to carry his work to the kiln. He then concentrated on his painting career where he specialised in oil paints. His pieces are signed “Jackman”, “J.Jackman” or “Jack Jackman” depending on how he felt that particular day. Pieces not considered worthy for the gallery were often donated to charities.
His son Bill has also produced pottery signed “Jackman” or “Bill Jackman”.
It turns out that we also have a number of pieces made by Bill Jackman. Although both sometimes incised their marks, and sometimes used a paint brush, the two signatures can be told apart by the way the letter K is written, with Bill using a lower case, and Jack an upper case form. More good news is that, when we sell our Jack Jackman umbrella stand, we have another large vase made by Bill that we can use instead.