It is a year now since the Australian Potters Marks project was launched so I thought it was timely to review progress. As of today, there are 1092 entries in the alphabetic list, of which 534 – nearly half – are linked to topics in the Identifying Australian Pottery group on Flickr. Australian Potters’ Marks is receiving over 1,000 visitors per month and the linked topics themselves are easily found through Internet search engines. Membership of the flickr group supporting the project has grown to 216 and there are over 6,000 images in the group pool and 1,225 discussion topics.
The work-in-progress approach seems to be working well, with informal discussions taking place side-by-side with the development of more formal linked topics, which are distinguished from the others by asterisks.The criterion for an asterisked topic is simply that we have examples of the potter’s mark and know in which state they were active. Some topics are quite detailed, others sparse, but still with enough information to give the potter a web presence, perhaps for the first time.
The biggest advance over the year has been the increase in our understanding of the number of large-scale enterprises that flourished in the 1970s and 1980s to meet the demand for hand-made functional ware. At an individual level, we are regularly making new discoveries with the help of potters themselves or their families. As an example, we have now distinguished the signatures used by Robert Barron and his mother Hilda, who operated a pottery in Croydon, Victoria, from the early 1970s until around 2000.
With all work being done on a voluntary basis, progress is necessarily a bit unsystematic. Priorities are determined mainly by members’ new finds, the marks published in new issues of the Journal of Australian Ceramics and who chooses to contact us with information. I’ve had a few messages from potters wondering why they are not yet in the list. I explain that this is because they did not have entries in the printed directories that were used as seed data and we don’t yet have examples of their marks. Getting added to the list is easy: just contact me with brief details of your professional practice and images (or descriptions) of the marks you have used over time.