The base of this tall (23 cm high) Shino-glazed stoneware bottle is inscribed with the potter’s signature but it is quite hard to read. Luckily, there is also an impressed seal which I have described in my marks database as “a square with a bird or seagull flying in front of a circle or sun above two wavy lines or the sea”.
When we bought this bottle in Canberra at the Geelong Street Antique Centre, I knew that I had seen the mark before. As soon as I got home, I searched for it and uttered a cry of triumph when there was a hit. We had bought two other pieces by the same potter in an antique store in Gunning on our way home from Gulgong in July. Then I realised that we still had a mystery potter on our hands.
The signature is clearer on this charger (one of the Gunning pieces) and, back in July, I had hazarded a guess that it says ‘Jennifer Gill’. Clearly, there is a Canberra connection, but I hadn’t been able to find out anything more about this potter then, and I still can’t.
The good thing is that the rather ornate descriptions of marks in my database are starting to reap benefits. I try to describe pictorial or emblematic marks using keywords that my future self might use. While I don’t yet know anything about Jennifer Gill (?) I can rest assured that, when another pot turns up with this mark I will be able to make the connection.
A reader has kindly let me know that this potter is Sergio Sill and that the Shino glaze is typical of his work. I blush to say that, packed away in our container are some other Sill pieces correctly ascribed and that my ‘trusty’ database failed me on this one.
Sergio Sill was born in Italy in 1946 and arrived in Australia in 1951. As a young man, he trained and worked as an architect, then from 1975-1979, completed a Diploma of Art and Design at the Preston Institute of Technology, majoring in ceramics and Sumie painting. He set up his first pottery studio in Hawthorn, Victoria, in 1978. In 1982 he relocated to Upper Lansdowne on the mid-north coast of NSW and established the Mt Coxcombe Pottery there. During the 1980s and early 1990s, he specialised in wood-fired stoneware with Shino, Chun, Celadon and natural ash glazes. In 1991, he changed directions again and began a professional painting career.
- “Sergio Sill”, Pottery in Australia, 25 (1), August 1986, p. 27.
- “Sergio Sill”, CV in My heritage my home (catalogue of an exhibition of the artist’s paintings held at Rose Cottage, St Ives, 16 June – 2 August, 2008) – no longer available online. This is the Internet Archive copy.
- Sergio Sill (website, last viewed November 2009).