From the President

Oh my goodness, what a busy winter the Circle has had so far (and more to come!)

Our May presenter was Jill Vella, who spoke first on the vibrant mid-century pottery of West Germany, referencing major producers such as Roth, ES Keramik and Scheurich, outlining their development, including ‘fat lava’ glazes with their compelling tactile qualities, and showing us brilliant examples. She then went on to mid-century English Poole pottery, particularly the Delphis and Studio ranges and discussed dating, the nature of the clay, the transition from pink slip grounds to white, the disappearance of blue from the mid-century palette and the dilution of patterns, satisfying the need for cheaper production; and she showed us an exciting array from her delightful collection.

Also in May we had our annual Winter seminar, hosted by our dear friends at the Johnston collection’ on the theme ‘The Art of The Table - but with a twist!’

 Matthew Martin spoke to us about the development, extravagance and political purposes of the 18th century formal dessert, while Di Sandilands took us from the Coles cafeteria to Niagara falls, via the Ballarat Shamrock Hotel and the Mildura Ocean; and Anni Macdonald-Penney spoke on the Japanese Keiseki meal with its fascinating history and exquisite presentation. Philip Williams finished with his discussion of Regency cut glass, loved by the Prince Regent and a technical marvel at the time, with steam power creating the ability to cut glass in new, dramatic ways. We also had a personalised tour of the current Fairhall exhibition and finished with social drinks at the Cliveden bar.

At our June meeting we welcomed Robert Barron of Gooseneck pottery, who gave us a detailed and fascinating talk about everything to do with his stunning wood-fired production.  We heard about the nature of the clays and glazes, the throwing of the pots and the construction of the kilns, the stacking and positioning of the pieces, the selection of the wood (Cypress preferred), the firing, the stoking, the piling of embers and the tipping of pots, to produce the marvelous effects; plus we met the delightful Mr. Grommet (Robert’s golden retriever).

The highlight of our year, on the evening of Thursday 27th June, was our 40th anniversary celebration at the Lyceum Club. Krystyna Campbell-Pretty AM kindly agreed to launch the Circle’s annual scholarship, in honour of Patricia Begg OAM and Chris Begg and she and Amanda Dunsmore took us through a wide-ranging discussion of philanthropy, the processes, the necessity of business acumen, and the great importance of preserving beauty for all Victorians. Krystyna then presented the inaugural award to 2024’s winning ceramicist, Victoria Lynagh.  It was a great evening in a beautiful space and our thanks go to Sue Harlow, our kind Lyceum Club host.

At our July meeting our happy scholarship winner, Vicky, presented her beautiful works and spoke about the development of her ceramics practice, particularly the inspiration she finds in the impact of fire on the Australian landscape, both destructive and regenerative, and how she expresses this dichotomy in her work through colour, faceting and burning. She took us through her hand building process and the application of the terra sigillata surface, and the use of combustible materials and burnishing. Vicky declared that her pieces were made for touching, and we were happy to oblige!

 Looking forward, in August Leslie Stephan, an Adelaide based member, will speak to us on ‘The Psychology of the Collector’. This fascinating topic was the subject of our 2023 Winter seminar, which resulted in much rueful recognition and laughter; and Leslie’s talk will provide a new perspective, given his background as a former Clinical Director of Mental Health and a consultant psychiatrist.

And, as winter comes to an end, in September we will have our annual three-speaker evening, where Elizabeth Golding will present on ‘Orrefors Glass – frozen liquid’, Robert Baker will take us on the journey of ‘Kraak Porcelain and the Maritime Trade’ and I will speak on “The Triumph of Amphitrite – the Meissen table-fountain, 1745-2014’.

 Cheers all.

 Genine Wallinga
President, July 2024


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