History of Studio Potters SA

Excerpt from book: “Shards: SA Studio Potters Celebrate 50 Years” (2004)

From its earliest days in the 1950’s the South Australian Studio Potters Club has provided for its members a reservoir of knowledge and shared experience for those starting out on their clay journey, as well as a supportive environment for the continued development of the dedicated practitioner.

With its foundations in the halcyon days of the fifties and sixties, when every bit of knowledge was hard won and highly valued, to the adventurous seventies, booming eighties and vastly diversified nineties, successive generations of ceramic enthusiasts have found support, knowledge and companionship with the Studio Potters Club.

Beginners, graduates and “old hands” as well as some memorable, rugged individualists have all found a place in this association’s ranks at various times. The cross-fertilization of ideas and techniques, frequently enhanced by visiting enthusiasts from other potting worlds, has served to expand the horizons of both the members and the wider community. In so doing, the lives of a great many South Australians have been greatly enriched.




The meeting was opened by Mr. R. Lowe, as Chairman, and minutes of previous meeting were read and passed. Mr. R. Evans expressed his views as to the formation of the Pottery Club and complimented members on the progress made in a few weeks. Nominations were then called for to form an Executive and General Committee and Officers were nominated as under.

  • President Mr. R. Evans
  • Treasurer
  • Vice President Mrs. G. MacKenzie
  • Secretary Mrs. V Godleman
  • Chairman of the House Mrs. Stewart
  • Clerk of Exhibitors Mrs. Bradley
  • Hostess Mrs. Tilbrook
  • Technical Committee – Mr. M Findlay, Mrs. G.
  • Kennett, Mr. R. Lowen, Mr. Clarke General
  • Committee – Mrs. McDonald, Mrs. Rose, Mrs.
  • Von Einem, Mrs. Jarratt, Mrs. Potter, Mrs
  • Lowen, Mrs. Trott, Mrs. Mount and Mrs. Smithson.

It was agreed upon by all present that the Executive Committee meet once a month and the Technical Committee once a month or as the Committee may find occasion to hold a meeting. The General Committee to meet every 3 months and all officers to be present. It was suggested by Mr. Evans to hold an election of officers once a year, probably the first week in July. This was generally agreed upon.


Photo: Kingsley Marks, Chris Marchant and Mary Jones at the Opening of the Harry Marchant Gallery

During the late eighties the pottery scene in general was experiencing a gradual decline and this began having an effect upon the number of people able to be attracted into classes, which historically had been the basis from which the membership grew.

A more affluent society also made easier the ability for people to establish home studios. This also had an affect upon the number of members being dependent upon club facilities to practice their craft so something needed to be done to maintain an ebbing membership and this was achieved with the decision to create a permanent gallery within the club rooms. At this time exhibitions outside of the clubrooms were becoming costly and more difficult to arrange so in 1990 it was decided to turn a front storeroom and hallway of the Sussex Street premises into a gallery. This resulted in the Harry Marchant Gallery, which opened in 1992.

A further refurbishment at Sussex Street had allowed for a generous new entry foyer. This space, together with two adjoining rooms, was converted into gallery space, again accomplished with membership support. The new gallery, of which we were justly proud, was officially opened with an Exhibition held during the Adelaide Festival of Arts with Kingsley Marks officiating on February 2nd, 1992. The Gallery was dedicated to the memory of Harry Marchant, who had passed away suddenly in February 1991. His contagious enthusiasm was the cornerstone of the club.

For the next seven years it was open on weekends and for Festival Fringe, Special and Christmas exhibitions. The gallery operated on the weekends and was run on a roster system made of contributing members. During specific exhibitions, held usually twice a year, the spacious common room area was also given over to increased gallery space as a larger number of members became involved during exhibitions, but didn’t submit work on a regular basis. The gallery worked very well and financially provided for its set up expenditure within the first twelve months through the commission collected from sales.


In 1999, with the move to Klemzig finalized, the club opened the doors of their ceramics-only gallery, justifiably proud of their independent status which had been maintained through consistent fund raising and prudent budget management. Life Member. Ottavio (Brock) Saccardo had provided his time and machinery to concrete the spacious car park behind the gallery that is an obvious asset to the club and is used to great advantage by gallery visitors for exhibition openings


.. From our earliest beginnings to our premises at Sussex Street, where we had our first dedicated two-roomed gallery, to our separate 5 roomed gallery at our 54 Og Rd, Klemzig location, well presented, quality exhibitions of members’ work have always been an integral part of the Studio Potters. The opportunity to participate in the Adelaide Fringe Festival has been a highlight of our calendar year since they began. These exhibitions are selected and require work to be of a high quality.
The gallery opens for most of the year with regularly changing work from our members. We usually have 3 major exhibitions each year, often with members working towards a particular theme, as “All fired up”, and “Pots for the Courtyard”. Some exhibitions have been held off campus” at Pepper Street Gallery, Studio 20, Adelaide Town Hall, Greenhill Galleries, David Jones Gallery and the Myer Centre ….

Carol Knezevic joined the club in 1991 and has served as Exhibitions Convenor from 1993 t0 2004. This role involves the organizing of Guest Openers for exhibitions, preparation of catalogues, invitations and other publicity.


The idea of Club Open Days was initiated in 1988, both as a means of raising funds and as an advertising vehicle, and has continued as a popular public activity which also gives the club opportunity to attract new members. In addition to the gallery, the new studio workrooms open to the general public, where demonstrations in hand and wheelwork were given, and these days have become a fixture on the club’s calendar.

Club members get together to create mugs, which are sold, and filled with home made soup or mulled wine. People line up for these treats. Activities for children and adults alike make this a fun day out for all family members. Small pots are made and sold to visitors who can chose a pot, glaze it, and have the experience of seeing it fired in a raku kiln on the same day.

Photo : She is seen with the Club’s Raku kiln

Open Day Report in Club Newsletter August 1988. Writer unknown.

… Thank you to all who participated in helping to make our Open Day, held on Sunday July 28th another resounding success. Due to the attraction of more visitors to the Clubrooms than usual, Mary Jones and Margaret Wollaston whose rostered gallery duty day fell on that Sunday, were kept busy and heard to comment that they would gladly do gallery duty every Sunday if they could continue to have hot soup and mulled wine served up to them on a regular basis, the good gallery sales on the day didn’t hurt either.

Roger Bampton, Fran Kernich and Carol Knezivic were actively occupied at the Raku kiln where approximately forty pots were committed to the fiery furnace. A wide variety of delicious hot soups were ladled continually into the 100 or so mugs purchased by visitors throughout the day. Kate Bussey rationed out her delectable mulled wine, which ran out, I must say, before the afternoon did.

Soup kitchen sketch from Club Newsletter July 1988

(artist unknown)


Early club members were wise when they laid down the foundation for good communication within the club. The establishment of a club newsletter has provided the archives from which we examine historical data relating to meetings, club rules, social events, workshops, personalities and exhibitions. Anything from poems to recipes for glazes and/or food can be included and members are welcome to write articles and provide any information for publication they deem relevant to potting.

The club newsletter is therefore usually eagerly awaited, with the current editor acting as reporter, printer and postie. However, like all club positions, the “hands on” work is often shared and members often pool their efforts to assist with mailouts. Some ‘wit’ skilled in sketching usually appears, and provides some satirical imagery for the newsletter and other publicity requirements.


In 1975 members had the option to purchase their copy of the Newsletter for 10 cents. Today the cost is included in membership fees. Life members and former tutors in South Australia and interstate are posted a free copy. Newsletters are exchanged with fellow potting clubs throughout the country. Volunteers were the first newsletter editors, until the club committee formalized the position in 1972 with Jane Peach in that role. The Editor then became a Committee Member, also acting as Members’ Representative on the Management Committee.

Technology has clearly changed since the days of the Gestetner machine. A note in old Minutes allowed the editor to use the club typewriter in their own home. A secondhand Photocopier had served the club well in recent years, and the 2004 arrival of a second hand digital photocopier promises ease of publication of the newsletter, and preparation of other publicity material. One unlucky Editor in recent years had to feed the paper into the old photocopier one page at a time. The current newsletter is prepared on the editor’s home computer using a template which will assist subsequent editors. The club is now well into the digital age, having established a website for the club using a free site provider to post information about Events on the Website and Facebook and our Newsletter is emailed to all members.

“Shards: SA Studio Potters Celebrate 50 Years” (2004) edited by Glenda Bowen, Studio Potters SA.
109 pages. isbn: 0646-43981-2

Copies of this book are held in the Studio Potters SA extensive Library