September is always a busy month at the Headquarters of the Australian Potters’ Marks Project (aka Australian Pottery at Bemboka) as we prepare for the opening of our new annual exhibition. Luckily, other project members contributed a number of new biographies and I made a push at the end of the month to capture entries from recent Facebook posts. We have therefore added a respectable 11 new topics to Australian Potters’ Marks. The entry on Dennis O’Hoy AM coincides with the publication of An Angel by the Water (Holland House, 2016). Edited by Bendigo historian Mike Butcher, it features more than 30 contributions from fellow historians, colleagues and past students of O’Hoy. Also included in this month’s list is an entry on the British potter Michael Cardew. In 1968, he spent six months in the Northern Territory helping to set up the Bagot Pottery as a training centre for Aboriginals.
Illustrated: a mark used by Dennis O’Hoy on Bendigo Pottery Epsom ware.
Here are the topics added in September 2016:
Welcome to our project to make the marks used by Australian potters easy to find on the Internet. This will be a huge, open-ended task. My guess is that more than 10,000 potters have practiced professionally in Australia over the last fifty years, often using more than one mark to identify their work.
The seed data: From 1977-1996, the Australian Potters’ Society published eight printed directories with short biographies and images of marks. The seed data for this project was derived from these directories. Other sources included Geoff Ford’s Encyclopaedia of Australian Potters Marks, Skepsi’s Celebrating the Master exhibition catalogue and the images of marks included in The Journal of Australian Ceramics from 2010 onwards.
The platform: I’ve chosen two freely available social networking sites to gather and share the data. The index is hosted here on wordpress.com and I’ll also blog regularly to report on progress. Discussions about potters and their marks will take place on the Identifying Australian Pottery group on Flickr, and Flickr will also provide a means of sharing images and building a searchable and browsable image pool.
The images: The seed data describes marks a potter used and which sources have images of those marks. Members of the Identifying Australian Pottery group on Flickr have been creating topics for identified potters, with images of marks, and I am linking these to the index entries as they are created. I’m also archiving the images of identified marks in a separate Flickr account where they can be browsed alphabetically and by state.
A work in progress: While already a useful resource, work has only just begun. Now it will be up to all of us – potters, their families and heirs, collectors, curators, historians, buyers and sellers on the secondary market – to pool our knowledge and to keep adding entries and images as information comes to hand.