This pyramid-shaped teapot numbered 126 was made by the Port Hacking Potters group. It is unusual for a pottery group to have its own stamp or to make commercial quantities of a single shape, so when I heard that the group would be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, I contacted them to see what I could discover about our teapot.
Port Hacking is an estuary on the southern edge of Sydney, with the suburbs of Cronulla, Woolooware, Burraneer, Caringbah, Dolans Bay, Port Hacking, Lilli Pilli, Yowie Bay, Miranda, Gymea Bay and Grays Point on the north bank and the Royal National Park on the South. It sounds like a wonderful part of Sydney to live and, clearly, many potters have thought so too. The Port Hacking Potters group is one of the longest running pottery groups in New South Wales. It was set up in 1962 by ten studio potters after their teacher, Dorothy Hope, moved to Port Macquarie. In 1968, the group became a division of the Cronulla School of Arts. From the early 1970s until 2009, it was affiliated with the Sutherland Shire Arts Council. Part of its original brief was to hold a National Pottery Competition and Exhibition. The 46th such exhibition was held in October, 2010, with the next one scheduled for this year.
I thought our teapot might have been made quite early in the history of the group, but it was actually produced for Bushells as part of a teabag advertising campaign about 12 years’ ago. It was designed by group member John Sadleir. John started potting in 1984, studying at Gymea Tafe with his wife Gail, and later at St George TAFE at Kogarah from 1988 to 1991. He taught mould making and slipcasting at St George while pottery courses were still being offered at the Kogarah campus, then took on a job as pottery teacher at Hazelhurst Art Centre, where he still works. His own mark is an impressed ‘JS’, sometimes with a date.
He tells me that he made 10 moulds, from which, with some help from members, about 260 teapots were made, using Cesco white E/W casting slip and Cesco royal blue E/W glaze, fired to 1100 degrees C. On a good day, they made 20 pots, but if too many people were helping, they only made 10 because of all the talking and cups of tea. It sounds as though, while it was fun to do, and a chance for members to learn slipcasting techniques, it was also hard work for little profit once the cost of materials was taken into account. The group declined an offer from the advertising agency to take on another project.
Thanks to Anna Ryland and John Sadleir for this information.