The Elsa Ardern biography is not new, but has been substantially updated with information provided to me by her son Gray. I hadn’t been aware that she shared her time between workshops in Tathra and Warrandyte for many years. Here is a picture Gray sent me of pots she fired in the Stafford Brothers’ wood-fired brick-kiln at Kalaroo.
Talking about goblets, here is an unusual pair with slightly everted straight-sided cups transitioning to short sturdy stems on a wide base. Made of fine sand-coloured clay, they are glazed white on the inside and the palest celadon on the lip, and in a wide band down the side. The rest of the body is left unglazed and decorated on both sides in a deeply carved scrawl – possibly a rocky forested outcrop – stained in an inky black. The mark on the base is an impressed monogram in the shape of a reverse S, which I’ve catalogued as ‘RJ’.
A fellow art market professional visiting the gallery this week brought with him a piece he had just purchased at auction, hoping for an attribution. It turned out to have the same mark. It is a small handbuilt vase with flattened sides, this time in a red-brown clay, with carved and stained decoration in a similarly strong organic style that reminds me a little of Hiroe Swen.
Two works make an oeuvre and we are both now keen to find out who made them.
This is the mark used by Ralph Jeffress, a potter who exhibited at Narek Galleries while it was based in Deakin, ACT in the early 1970s. Thank you Carmen for this information! She has a work with the ‘RJ’ mark, also signed ‘R. Jeffress’.