Robin Welch

Mystery potter #19: ‘K with horizontal bar’

Pair of stoneware goblets

Pair of stoneware goblets. Mark

These very tall and heavy stoneware goblets with flanged stems were listed in a recent auction catalogue as having been made at Mungeribar Pottery but the impressed mark is quite different. It looks like a K divided by a horizontal bar. The Mungeribar Pottery mark is an impressed M. Yet the attribution may still reflect a shared provenance of some kind.

Mungeribar Pottery was established by Ian Sprague at Upper Beaconsfield, Victoria, in 1964. Sprague, an architect by training, and then in his early forties, had just completed a three-year diploma in ceramics at the Central School in London and some months working at the David Leach Pottery in Devon. He returned to Australia in February, 1962, planning to set up his own pottery and to run it on Leachian lines.

There was very little expertise with stoneware and high temperature firing in Australia at that time. In the early stages of fitting out the pottery, he was helped by the visiting English potter Robin Welch. The kiln was designed by Arthur Homer of St Agnes, Cornwall. In the October 1965 issue of Pottery in Australia, Sprague published an article describing his experiences for the benefit of other potters.

While Welch was in Australia, he exhibited some of his work at the Craft Centre Gallery in South Yarra (another of Sprague’s initiatives). It was viewing this exhibition which led the young Victor Greenaway to visit Sprague at Mungeribar, and subsequently to accept an apprenticeship there.

Ian Sprague. Stoneware cup. Marks

Welch’s Australian work was characterised by cylindrical forms with multiple flanges but he signed his work with his full name. Sprague had his own mark, an impressed square with two quarters and three dots, shown here with the Mungeribar ‘M’. [I have since learnt that this is Morse code for IS.] Greenaway’s marks are described in another entry.

Victor Greenaway. Stoneware goblet

Greenaway used a flanged goblet as the mark for the Broomhill Pottery from 1975; and there is clearly a similarity between the ‘K with horizontal bar’ goblets and this beaker made by Greenaway while he was still at Mungeribar. I assume that their maker was a potter working in stoneware in the late 1960s and early 1970s, associated in some way with Mungeribar or influenced by the same trends.

References

Ian Sprague, “The pottery at “Mungeribar””, Pottery in Australia, Vol. 4, No. 2, October, 1965, pp. 21-24.

“Sprague & Greenaway”, in Alison Littlemore and Kraig Carlstrom, Nine artist potters, North Sydney, N.S.W. : Jack Pollard Pty. Ltd., 1973, pp. 106-123.

Victor Greenaway : ceramics 1965-2005, Roseville, N.S.W. : Beagle Press, 2005, pp. 123-125.

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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