Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Elizabeth Potters group


The decision by the Department of Further Education to limit attendance at their Pottery classes to a term of two years, was a bitter blow to a number of very keen ‘would-be’ potters who had completed the two years of instruction.

How to continue their hobby seemed an insurmountable problem as the equipment needed was extensive and very expensive.  The answer, of course, was to pool resources and form a club to provide equipment which could be shared by members.  A meeting to discuss this idea was held on February 26th, 1975 at the then, Elizabeth Technical College.  Fifteen people attended, all were eager to form a pottery club, and the search was on to find suitable premises.  This proved to be a difficult task indeed and in order to improve their chances, a ‘Steering Committee’ was elected, the first President being Mrs. Rosemary Miller.

On July 1st 1975, the Elizabeth Potters were able to rent a garage at the rear of the Y.W.C.A. House in Judd Road, Elizabeth.  A humble enough beginning!  It is interesting to note that it is on record of July 8th 1975, club equipment consisted of an electric pottery wheel (well past its prime!), an electric jug, and a kero heater.

The most immediate need was of course a kiln.  All pots were being fired by Rosemary Miller, the only member to have her own gas fired kiln.  A valiant effort which really gave the club a chance to succeed.

A fundraising Open Day and Pottery Market was held on October 18th 1975 in the YWCA House rented for the special occasion, proved to be a great success and was well received by the public.  Since then the Elizabeth Potters have held two sales each year, usually in May and November, events which happily continue to grow in popularity.

The first Annual General Meeting, held on February 24th, 1976, showed clearly that much progress had been made and the club soundly established.

In 1977, the Elizabeth Potters received a grant from the Arts Grant Advisory Council of S.A., which was used to help finance a gas kiln.  Later, a grant from the Crafts Board Australia Council was used to buy much needed general equipment.  It is a source of great pride however, that the Elizabeth Potters themselves financed the large new workshop sited also in grounds of YWCA House, that was opened on May 3rd 1980 by Mr. Peter Duncan, M.P.

The activities of the Club are not confined to their own premises however, for their efforts to be involved in community affairs have led to members giving freely of their time to take part in demonstrations of pottery making in order to raise funds for various charities.  Stalls have been set up at numerous events such as Gala Days, Spring Fairs, Come-outs, Elizabeth Birthday Celebrations, to name but a few.  Lots of hard work involved of course, but also lots of fun, often in spite of weather that has been less than charitable!

Friday night each week is ‘Club Night’ when members meet and enjoy the visits of invited guests who, are usually, though not always, well known potters who specialise in one certain field of the craft.  Much is learnt in this way, though putting the knowledge into practice is not always a sinecure!  The Elizabeth Potters can be proud of the fact that many of its members, who through their successes in Open Competitions run by Local Councils, are rapidly becoming well known as exert potters in their own right.  We have Patricia Low, Pat Cherry, Joan Avery and Charlie Romeo, who have won awards for their work, and there are many other members who turn out work of professional standards.

On May 17th 1983, the Elizabeth Potters held the first Public Exhibition of their work in the Cartledge Auditorium.  This culmination of years of effort and determination was aptly entitled ‘Fired with Enthusiasm’.  Mr. Robin Trebilcock, Community Arts Officer of Elizabeth, opened the Exhibition in the presence of Mr. Martyn Evans, Mayor of Elizabeth.  Public reaction to the display was most encouraging and appreciative.

Club membership at the end of 1983 stands at 32, which means that our present accommodation is literally bursting at the seams. If we are to continue to progress, we must find more expansive premises in order to accommodate the ever increasing amount of applications to join the Elizabeth Potters.  This then, is the next challenge to be met, and of course overcome, as were all the rest.

Eileen Coe

27th January, 1984

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