Early experiences with clay

I was inspired to get involved in ceramics and pottery in particular by my grandmother  Eva Sounness.  Eva Sounness was a pioneer West Australian artist who was painting in the 1930’s and  began using clay in the early 1960’s  after attending a UWA summer school with Eileen Keyes. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s school holidays for me meant  going  to stay with Grandma on “the farm”. The farm was a sheep and wheat farm called Paper Collar Gully near the Stirling Ranges in Western Australia. If I and my cousins were not doing farm work with the men, we were probably being encouraged to play with clay by grandma. Being the oldest boy I was often required to dig and process clays from around the farm and help with kiln building and firing. At  morning tea time family arguments could break out as to what constituted a good mug, as working on the farm seemed to involve drinking 8-10 cups of tea in a day, it was important! My cousins, the artists Warrick and  Cecille Williams would have similar memories.  Grandma’s  research and testing led to the manufacture and marketing of Paper Collar Clay by her son Richard. Back in the days of heavily reduced stoneware with iron spots it was very popular among West Australian potters. In the late seventies as an anxious ,depressed and somewhat “off the rails” teenager, I went to live and work on the farm full time. This involved hard work and sport followed by sport and hard work. If I got sick of this (and I did!) time was spent learning the rudiments of pottery and drawing in Grandma’s studio. I attended a number of workshops during this time. Ivun England, Bela Kotai and Greg Daly being the ones that come to mind.

Comments are closed.