08 May 2015

A Potters April Autumn Holiday

I'm not long back from a lovely though short holiday down South in Victoria and through the Snowy Mountains to get there and back.. (click on the highlighted names for more information).

We stopped off in the Snowy Mountains to drop off our bird with a family member to look after while we were away.  Monty likes a car ride.

Travelling through the Snowy Mountains we stopped for a break at a little cafe in Khancobban which had this lovely Gingko or Maiden Hair Tree taking on its autumn colours.

 Our second night was in the lake side town of Yarrawonga where I met up with hobby potter, Dave.  We had made contact through Facebook and he agreed to meet up.  Generously inviting us to his home to meet his wife and see his studio space.  Dave also helps out at the local school and is involved in a project to make red poppies for an event in August.  Self taught, Dave brings a great enthusiasm to his work.  His 'have a go' attitude is inspiring.
As an example he made these objects from Blue Tack to then make a plaster mould and cast as jewellery. What an innovative idea!

The third night saw us in central Victoria in the town of Ballarat.  It was a boom town in the time of the Gold Rush and has some beautiful architecture. The older buildings are in the main business area. Where we were staying had been added to in the 1900s and had beautiful art nouveau decorations.

stained glass window of our accommodation built in the early 1900s

wonderful tiling along corridors (early 1900s)

Nearby was the site of the only armed rebellion in Australia, the Eureka Stockade. (link to story).  There is now an information centre and park on the site.
artist impression of the Eureka Stockade
sculpture at the Eureka Stockade memorial site

We were there for a week and enjoyed a trip to the Ballarat Art Gallery, the town of Daylesford and a day in the other gold rush town, Bendigo.

It just so happens that the first of my father's family to come to Australia landed in Bendigo in the early 1850s.  We went to the Bendigo Library and the very helpful social history librarian helped us find out where he and his wife were buried in the cemetery at Kangaroo Flat just outside the town.

The grave was in surprisingly good condition which was a comfort some how..  one of their daughters must have installed the headstone after their mother died or perhaps their only son helped to arrange it after their mother died.  The only son, my great great grandfather left Victoria to be a coal miner in Newcastle NSW.

Bendigo is now home of the Bendigo Pottery.  They were established in 1858. At first they made mostly bathroom and drainage ware but as the years progressed they became known for their homewares.  There is an interesting history self guided history tour with recorded voices conversing about their work as it would have been and the original bottle kilns are still standing much like those in Stoke on Trent in England.
mannequin showing how product was carried to the kilns when they used the bottle kilns

mannequin shovelling coal into kiln as part of  Bendigo Pottery history tour

They also provide a potter demonstrating and the chance to have a lesson on the pottery wheel.  I had a nice chat with the potter that day, Graham Masters.

chattering tools
Graham was decorating bowls he had thrown the day before with the technique called 'chattering' which puts an interesting mark on the pots in a pattern which a master-potter such as Graham is able to vary by changing the tilt of the tool against the spinning pot.  He makes his own tools from old paint scrapers.

trimmed and chattered bowls

Bendigo Pottery yarn bowls made by Graham Masters

The buildings in Bendigo also reflect the boom times of the Gold Rush era

I liked the feel of Bendigo and would like to return one day.

Back in Ballarat we met up with another Facebook friend, Dawn Whitehand.  Dawn is a Visual Artist and writer.  Dawn's book on pit firing, "Pit Firing Ceramics Modern Methods, Ancient Traditions" is excellent and she was kind enough to sign my copy for me.

Here is a link to her site where you can buy a copy for yourself: https://dawnwhitehand.wordpress.com/publications/

Dawn generously invited my husband and I to her property where I enjoyed looking around her studio and garden and seeing her versatile pit where her firings take place.

It was lovely to receive one of her pieces, thank you Dawn. It is now with my other treasures from my pottery travels.

Pit fired Pod by Dawn Whitehand
On the way home we stopped off in the town of Shepparton for a quick visit to the Shepparton Art Museum which specialises in ceramics.

Their permanent collection is well worth the visit with early examples of Australian Studio Pottery and also exhibits contemporary artists such as Stephen Benwell.

Here are some more pics from there: 

an early example of a Paul Davis urn

Stephen Benwell display

display of early work by the Boyd family including Arthur Boyd and Merric Boyd

Well worth the visit if you are in the area.  They also run a competition for Indigenous Ceramic Artists.

Back in NSW and leaving the Snowy Mountains behind us I was taken by the wonderful autumn colours of the trees and paddocks.

It was a short holiday but very refreshing.


Permanent Procrastination said...

That pottery is beautiful!
Tegan xx - Permanent Procrastination

Midori said...

What a lovely holiday you had! Monty is so cute! : ) X

Anna said...

Yes it was Tegan.

Hi Midori, it was very refreshing and just what we needed. Monty is very cute and can whistle the tune "pop goes the weasle" :)

Linda Starr said...

what a great trip, love the leaves and I don't have any idea what blue tack is?

Anna said...

Hi Linda It was a great potters holiday.. Blue Tack? You must know it by another name I'm sure. It comes in strips which you pull off pieces of, swish them into little balls and use them to adhere posters to 'dry wall' instead of sticky tape. It is sort of plastic... can be removed, kneaded again and reused without damaging the wall.. maybe it is a different colour in the USA?

Caroline said...

Hello Monty! What a cutie. I also have a cockatiel.

Anna said...

Hi Caroline
they are lovely pets aren't they? Monty whistles "Pop Goes the Weasel" and loves some toast on these cold mornings.