Ralph Jeffress

Recently added biographies

Here are the biographies I’ve added to our online catalogue since November:

Elsa Ardern. Selection of pots made at Kalaru, NSW

Elsa Ardern. Selection of pots made at Kalaroo

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.

Mystery potter #38: Ralph Jeffress

'RJ' (?). Pair of goblets 'RJ' (?). Pair of goblets. Mark

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’.

'RJ' (?). Vase 'RJ' (?). Vase. Mark

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’.