I have been working as a potter for what seems a lifetime, and get great pleasure from it.
My family history with the orient began with my grandparents who spent 20 years in China as missionary teachers’ pre-World War 2.
My mother also began her years there. Both my grandmother and mother are very artistic and painted in oils and water colour.
So, from an early age I was given a keen interest in things oriental and after my studies in Australia in Ceramics, I managed to apply to do post graduate studies at Kyoto University of Fine arts, though the path to eventually get to Kyoto and study ceramics was not an easy or smooth one.
In Kyoto I determined to learn porcelain technique, and after three years at the university, was invited to enter the studio of the part time lecturer of porcelain, Hirokuni Katsuno. This proved to be the most enlightening time of my period in Japan, and I learn a great deal under his tutelage. Learning how to make my own tools to assist in throwing. The incredible precision of the making, the importance of turning, making turning chucks, using tungsten carbide turning tools, decoration, and glazing techniques. It was almost completely a new addition to my education, as well as being an insight into the disciple teacher relationship in Japan.
While in Japan I also met my future wife and after a period of close to 5 years the decision to return to Australia was made.
Beginning again in Australia without the support and infrastructure of an old Japanese city was challenging all-round. I returned to a rural town in country Victoria where nobody could relate to any of my experiences let alone understand the finer qualities of what goes into making porcelain. So, it was not too long before we moved closer to Melbourne, still in the country but within striking distance of town, supplies, ceramic materials etc. I imported my porcelain clay from Japan for many years until slowly local suppliers began to make or import American, French, and English clay bodies. These days it is much easier to obtain most of the necessary materials, however I still prefer the beautiful Japanese porcelains. My kilns are largely gas fired reduction. However, in recent years I have also built a wood firing kiln and had much pleasure in learning the finer arts of wood fire technique.
I have also over the last 10 years been helping a village in Vanuatu re-establish some pottery traditions. (My parents having been missionaries out there when I was a small child). I continue to support this village by finding potters willing to go and spend some time in the village potting and mentoring. A few years ago, I managed to get private funding and sent out enough bricks and supplies to build a wood firing kiln in the village and some kick wheels (there being little or no electricity in the village)
In Victoria I continue to make a variety of work from raku, earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain, not wanting to limit myself in one area. I also teach a few students, trying to pass on some of the skills I have learnt over time, especially the tool making and Japanese porcelain techniques that no one else in Australia teaches. My most recent major exhibition was in Melbourne this last year and I hope further opportunities come round.