History of Ceramics Victoria Inc.
Formerly known as the Victorian Ceramic Group (VCG), Ceramics Victoria Inc. (CVInc) is a non-profit incorporated association. The group established a range of activities for people interested in ceramics, aiming to encourage higher standards of excellence through workshops, lectures and exhibitions. CVinc is committed to promoting the quality of work of its members by educating the wider community about the special quality that is intrinsic to hand-made ceramic objects.
The first meeting of the founding Melbourne Ceramic Group was in March 3rd 1969 in the undercroft of the Cairns Memorial Presbyterian Church Hall in East Melbourne. Ten ladies were present and Mrs. Connie Dridan was elected as their honorary secretary. An annual membership fee of $2 was set and it was decided to place an advertisement in the Age newspaper inviting prospective members to join the group. A colourful 40 year history is attested in the minutes and the newsletters once they began.
The following month Verna Stoneman presented Peter Laycock with a box of cigars in appreciation for his inaugural presentation to the group. There were 38 people who came in response to the Age advertisement. I recall my student colleagues, Wayne Pinder and Michael Dillon of Bendigo were invited to address the group at an early meeting on “Good taste in Pottery”. Michael had completed his industrial experience at the Wedgwood factory; UK developing their ‘Arabia’ range of brown dinnerware [very modern for the time] and Wayne had spent 2 years with Bernard Leach, at St Ives, England as a thrower. A vigorous discussion took place even though Michael sent a telegram of apology for his inability to attend! I note this was also a discussion topic at the NSW potters group during this time as referenced in Pottery in Australia.
To our current generation, these two examples in social practice marked the breadth of change that has taken place in the past 40 years. To some, the life of the potter in these early days could only be described as laughable, from the digging of materials, collecting, testing and formulating clay bodies & glazes. Store bought clay in packets was a new development at this time and available only in Melbourne. The 60’s saw us moving from the “Segar” principals of glaze recipe with material calculation using atomic & molecular weights to Ian Edwards, tri axial blend theory, presented in the late 60’s adapted from Rhodes, Clay & Glazes for the Potter] to the plethora of glaze formulation concepts that is available today.
The climate during this time could only be described as a thirst for knowledge. There were only 5* basic volumes that supplied both historic & technical reference. In response from feedback from the membership, the group strived to build an available body of knowledge. This charter continues to this day, with forums, workshops and festivals.
In the first decade the group responded quickly to the exciting growth in development taking place with Ceramic practices and education. Even by the AGM in 1971 membership stood at 280 and it was common for monthly meetings to have regular gatherings of 100 members. The impact of the group on pottery was far reaching. The Victorian Ceramic Group, as it was now known, was instrumental in calling the first public meeting at which the Craft Association of Victoria was formed. For many years both organizations worked interactively supporting each others events and membership.
Throughout the group’s history, mentoring and support of emerging artist’s has always been a priority. The first advisory panel of potters, who met at the invitation of the executive at Mrs. Mavis Annois home in November 1970, was H.R.Hughan, Reg Preston, Phyl Dunn, Ian Sprague, Bill Hick and Elsa Arden. These were respected potters of their day and now known as some who underpin the Studio Pottery movement in Victoria.
As with the charter of the group, emphasis has always been placed on education and integration of members for the purpose of elevating the standards of excellence in Ceramic practice.
There have been 2 patrons of the group the first Harold R Hughan MBE, 1970-1987 the first potter in Australia to produce Stoneware pottery assisted in the most part by his son Robert, a Ceramic Chemist. By offering comprehensive technical and practical information both men were luminaries of the group by furthering the genre of Studio Ceramics in Australia.
Our second patron was Mrs. Connie Dridan 1992-2002 the inaugural secretary who did so much for the promotion and education of ceramics with both the Ceramic Group and with Craft Victoria. Connie was tireless with her organization of touring international practioners, & exhibitions, organizing study tours of Asia, particularly Japan & Korea. She related to so many people on so many levels. One of her last initiatives was the organization of specialist ‘collector’ auctions of Studio Ceramic Collections. Auction houses were not equipped with the specialist knowledge and Connie’s initiative came from the ‘under valuing’ the work of Studio Potters.
There have been many significant milestones for the group:
1970 the permanent Collection of Ceramics was established. The 1st acquisition of a work by UK potter Harry Davis, who had moved to New Zealand as a result of the Cuban crisis of 1961. Pieces were collected from exhibitions, bequests, donations from workshop demonstrators etc. Currently the Permanent collection has 218 Australian & International works. The City of Whitehorse is the Custodial Curator of the Collection and is housed at the Box Hill Art Space.
1979 Tenth Anniversary: Publication assisted by the Crafts Board of the Australia Council: The First Ten Years.
1978 Greg Daly Stoneware form.
2nd Jan 1985 Ceramics Victoria gained its Certificate of Incorporation, thanks to the work by Robert [Bob] Hughan.
1985: Victorian Ceramic Group stages the 4th National Ceramic conference in Melbourne.
The National Gallery of Victoria mounts a survey exhibition of the Collection, and a catalogue publication ‘Celebrating Ceramics’ also honours this occasion.
1988 A grant for $200 from the Sydney Myer Fund seeded the Bi- Centennial collection of functional Ceramics by Victorian Studio Potters.
1989 1st Festival of Ceramics to mark the 20th Anniversary of the group was conducted at Chisholm Institute of Technology [ex Dandenong TAFE] instigated by Joe Gentile. This is now a bi-annual event. The Festival usually invites 6 National and 1 International cutting edge demonstrator/ practioners to deliver the latest trends in methodology. Eight very successful ‘Festival of Ceramics’; have been held, now alternatively conducted at the Universities in Bendigo and Ballarat
1994 Clay Fever 94 Silver Jubilee Festival at the Meat Market Craft Centre
An invitation was extended to 10 Ceramic artists represented in the Permanent Collection to Exhibit “Then & Now” They were, Stephan Benwell, John Dermer, Ann Geroe, Victor Greenaway, Deborah Halpern, Dulcie Herd, Victoria Howlett, Reg Preston Jill Symes and Alan Watt.
2003 National Ceramic Conference- ‘Ignition’ in Bendigo conducted at the Bendigo Pottery, Epsom.
2006 July Name change from the Victorian Ceramic Group to Ceramics Victoria Incorporated.
Fran Clark 1982 Slab Constructed Vases
Exhibitions & Awards: Since its inception Ceramics Victoria Incorporated has maintained a number of exhibitions and awards on an annual and bi annual calendar. The program caters for emerging artists, with the Pat Emery Award and the H.R. Hughan & Sculptural Award’s for functional and sculptural works including esoteric object driven pieces. There is also an annual members’ exhibition. The largest membership was 780 in the mid 80’s.
2012 Forums & Workshops: Over 300 Ceramic Artists have delivered demonstrations and lectures to the group, some noted International’s have included Paul Soldner, Daniel Rhodes, Tatsuzo Shimaoka, Yu Fujiwara, Hiroshi Seto, Alan Caiger Smith, Robyn Welch, David Eeles, Frank Boyden, Peter Hayes to name but a few.
Ceramics Victoria is a self funded organization that relies on the generosity of its members and volunteers. In the 43 Year history over 130 people have contributed to an Executive or Committee role.
Each decade brings a paradigm shift in style and character, and that is what makes Ceramics the most exciting of mediums for artistic expression.
OUR NAME & LOGO
The Victorian Ceramic Group logo was designed by David and Dawna Richardson-Hyde for the Victorian Ceramic Group 1989 Festival t-shirts. It was adopted by the VCG in 1992 as the official logo for all stationery and promotions.
In 2006 a name change was proposed and agreed to by the membership. The Victorian Ceramic Group Inc became Ceramics Victoria Inc. With the name change came the new look Claylink, designed by Connie Marie Albanese, along with a new look logo.
DEVELOPMENT OF CRAFTSMANSHIP
Members’ exhibitions and an ongoing program of workshops and forums have helped CVinc to continue its unique role as a nurturing service organisation. Individual promotion and advancement are encouraged.
The membership base comprises professional ceramic artists, studio potters, academics, institutions, part-time potters, hobbyists, teachers and students. CVinc relies heavily on volunteers and honorary support from its members.
The CVinc website’s Member Directory offers members the opportunity to promote their work internationally with images and text.
CVinc holds monthly meetings with guest speakers presenting talks on many aspects of ceramics. Topics include: ceramic making and decorating techniques, new technology, international ceramics, talks by local and international potters, forums on marketing and much more. These events enable members to establish contact with fellow potters and discuss issues of mutual interest, as well as creating social opportunities, mentoring and support.
FESTIVALS AND WORKSHOPS
Notable practitioners conduct workshops, participate in our festivals and present at our monthly meetings where possible. These activities provide a chance to learn new techniques and be inspired to network with like-minded people.
The CVinc newsletter Claylink has been the window to the world for the group since its inception, reaching out to metropolitan, country and interstate members. Published four times a year, Claylink includes reviews of exhibitions and talks, technical information, articles by members, upcoming workshops and an extensive calendar of events. Members can use the advertising section to buy or sell equipment. Claylink is sent to all members and as a promotional tool, is distributed to professional organisations.
Commencing with the 2008 – 2009 membership year, members were able to opt out of receiving a hard copy of Claylink by post, accessing the electronic colour version instead. Enjoy the consequent $10 discount in your membership fee too - save money and save a tree!
Regular email bulletins help to keep members informed of key dates, including upcoming competitions, exhibitions and opportunities.
Exhibitions offer diverse opportunities to members, encouraging those who aspire to professional standards. CVinc exhibitions, both within Australia and overseas, are promoted to the public via mainstream galleries. Prizes and awards are judged.
PERMANENT CERAMIC COLLECTION
The valuable CVinc permanent/private collection of ceramics is housed at the City of Whitehorse and is exhibited in secure display sites on occasions throughout the city each year.
A range of committee positions offer members opportunities for involvement.
Positions include Executive: President, Vice President, Secretary & Treasurer; Exhibitions Officer, Collection Officer, Public Relations Officer, Membership Officer, Web Liaison Officer, Newsletter Editor, Festival Coordinator, Workshops Officer, and Open House/ Forum Night Coordinator.
Contact the Office Coordinator if you would like to get involved.
Ceramics Victoria Inc (the Victorian Ceramic Group Inc.) was established in 1969 to fulfil a need for the dissemination of information about new techniques in ceramics and to encourage and stimulate ceramists to a higher standard of craftsmanship.
The operation of Ceramics Victoria Incorporated is governed by the Associations Incorporation Regulations 1998.