70s brutalism

Diana salt & pepper shakers
made in Australia, 1970s

Further to the Diana pottery from the 40s and 50s recently discussed- meet some Diana from the 70s! This range is called ‘Safari’.

Earthen tones [tick] brutalist, oversize shape [tick] chunky form devoid of decoration [tick.] This is the 70s alright!

I have also collected the teapot, and creamer in Safari: but like a lot of 70s ware, I find less is less. It is possible to have too much of a good thing. However- if you are a big fan of the 70s [ie: you didn’t actually have to live through that time] you may like to consider the teapot and creamer.

The brutalist salt and pepper shakers are for sale: $AU25

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Terra Ceramics lazy susan

Terra Ceramics ‘Daisy’ lazy susan
made in Australia, c.1965

The ubiquitous daisy- symbol of the 60s- is stylised and showcased on these Terra Ceramics pieces. Terra Ceramics was proudly Australian, and they have imbued their daisies with the colours of the bush-  olive greens, tans and browns. This set is a lazy susan: four segmented ceramic pieces lift out from around the central circular piece, with the whole lot on a burnished anodised aluminium tray. Which turns around – hence ‘lazy susan’.

The pieces are stamped “Terra Ceramics Australia, Terama hand painted”. It’s now unusual to find hand painted ceramics- and if you look at the five individual pieces you can see subtle differences in the hand-painters work.

I have also collected a matching Daisy ramekin, and Daisy salt and pepper shakers. The Daisy collection continues!

The lazy susan is in excellent vintage condition and is for sale: $AU75

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Aboriginal motif kitsch

50s Aboriginal motif s&p, jugAboriginal motif salt & pepper shaker sets, and small jug
made in Australia c.1950s

While none of these items has a maker’s mark, the salt and pepper shakers at the back are possibly by Terra Ceramics, and the round shakers to the left are possibly Florenz Pottery. The small jug is probably Studio Anna. All these potteries were making tourist and souvenir pottery by the 1950s, and these appropriated [and westernised] indigenous motifs were hugely popular. Post war arts and crafts saw a rise in the popularity of Australiana – replacing traditional English motifs with ‘Australian’ themes; invariably Aboriginal motif works were black, tan and white.

This group works well as a set, or could form the basis of a larger collection. The items on their own are very kitsch…but somehow when grouped the kitschness is subverted into a subtler aesthetic.

This set is for sale: $AU125

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50s Australiana kitsch

Gambit Ware 'Ceramique' Australiana leaf platesGambit Ware ‘Australiana’ leaf plates
made in Australia 1950s

Here is another part of my collection: anything botanically themed always gets me in. Add to that these plates were designed and made in Australia- celebrating our unique flora in the post war period. AND this is ‘Ceramique’ – an early melamine material that was developed to revolutionise ceramic – it would ‘never chip or break.’

The stylised plates came in simple pastel colours, but were quite botanically detailed- they include wattle, banksia, kurrajong, mulga leaves- to name a few. The simple colouring meant that each leaf shape was reproduced in six colours- so one could buy a set of six ‘for display OR kitchen purposes’!

This image shows another part of my collection- at last count I had 50 plates. Plates with their labels intact are worth significantly more. The Ceramique has certainly lived up to its name- there isn’t a chip or a crack on any of the plates, although colour fading has occurred on a few.

Kitschy – yes. But 50s Australian kitsch- I love it!

This selection of Gambit Ware is for sale: $125 [13 pieces]

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Genie Lamp vase

MCP Genie Lamp vase #257MCP ‘Genie Lamp’ vase #257
made in Sydney, Australia c1950

MCP- Modern Ceramic Products- started production in the 1940s, in Redfern, Sydney. MCP made strong geometric forms with very modernist styling – and a highly textured exterior finish to contrast with the smooth internal glaze. This two-toned aesthetic meant each vase shape could be made in a wide range of iterations- albeit along the 50s spectrum of baby blue, pale pink and pale yellow.

I’ve sold several- beautiful- MCP vases; have a look on the SOLD tab. They are now very collectible and it’s getting harder to find these beauties.

This ‘Genie Lamp’ vase is in baby blue. It is stamped ‘#257 MCP’ on the base, and it looks good with anything from old fashioned roses [referencing the 50s] to contemporary structural arrangements- like Eucalypt leaves.

The Genie Lamp vase is for sale: $AUD55

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50s Australiana kitsch

Gambit Ware 'Ceramique' Australiana leaf platesGambit Ware ‘Australiana’ leaf plates
made in Australia 1950s

Here is another part of my collection: anything botanically themed always gets me in. Add to that these plates were designed and made in Australia- celebrating our unique flora in the post war period. AND this is ‘Ceramique’ – an early melamine material that was developed to revolutionise ceramic – it would ‘never chip or break.’

The stylised plates came in simple pastel colours, but were quite botanically detailed- they include wattle, banksia, kurrajong, mulga leaves- to name a few. The simple colouring meant that each leaf shape was reproduced in six colours- so one could buy a set of six ‘for display OR kitchen purposes’!

This image shows another part of my collection- at last count I had 50 plates. Plates with their labels intact are worth significantly more. The Ceramique has certainly lived up to its name- there isn’t a chip or a crack on any of the plates, although colour fading has occurred on a few.

Kitschy – yes. But 50s Australian kitsch- I love it!

This selection of Gambit Ware is for sale: $125 [13 pieces]

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Bessemer jugs

Bessemer jugs
made in Melbourne, c. 1970s

Bessemer products – made from melamine – were made by the Nylex Melmac Corporation which started production in the mid 60s. These beautiful jugs [and the subject of future posts, I have collected a lot of Bessemer!] were designed by Lionel Suttie, an industrial designer.

It’s interesting that Mr Suttie is remembered as Bessemer’s lead designer: this was the first time that condiment or tableware made from plastic [melamine] was thought to be worthy of design – that the humble mass-produced plastic jug or butter dish could make a design statement. These jugs certainly do that- they pay homage to mid-century modernist design and in the colouring, homage to the 70s.

The jugs can be used as intended- melamine is a strong plastic resistant to scratching and these jugs are ‘as new’ – or they can form part of a funky 70s display.

For sale: $AUD60

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Elischer pottery

Elischer ramekins & vaseElischer ramekins & vase
made in Melbourne, Australia 1950s

Most of my collection comes from Sydney potteries – but Elischer is a Melbourne pottery which commenced in the late 30s and continued until the late 80s. Elischer was a Viennese sculptor who turned to pottery when he immigrated to Melbourne. These pieces; three ramekins and a small vase, are in the typical 50s colourway of black, tan and cream but employ atypical organic, asymmetrical forms.

I have one other Elischer pottery piece in the collection – very different to these pieces- a Four Seasons Whiskey jug. By the 60s Elischer was making commercial bar ware and had moved away from the more experimental pottery seen here.

None of these pieces is signed – I have deduced from research and the matching colourway/asymmetric forms that all these pieces are Elischer. They are for sale: $AUD80

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40s Australiana

Diana Flannel Flower pie dishDiana ‘Flannel Flower’ pie dish, made in Sydney, Australia 1940s

I collect Diana pottery- and as a landscape architect I am particularly fond of the Australiana series of flowers produced in the 40s. Here we have the flannel flower, hand-painted- in a pie dish. The Flannel Flower is the floral emblem of NSW [and has been associated with this State since Federation in 1901.] I wouldn’t say that this is a terribly accurate or particularly artistic rendering of the flannel flower but it represents an important milestone in Australian pottery- where the fashions and obsession with all things English were replaced with a nationalistic interest in Australian iconography.

I have posted several other Diana Flannel Flower pieces [see several posts, below] but this is the first pie dish I have come across. It’s in excellent condition and clearly stamped Diana on the back.

I’ve teamed the pie dish with a little whimsy- a 40s koala figurine smoking a pipe. Not so much Australian iconography as Australian kitsch at its best!

The pie dish is for sale: $AUD75 [and I’ll throw in the koala as well!]

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30s sugar canister

30s sugar canisterSugar canister
made in Australia, 1930s

A wonderful example of a depression era canister – this aluminium sugar canister evidences all the hallmarks of the 30s- drilled, green bakelite handles, mismatched green tones, applied ‘Sugar’ label, and graduated rings to the cream base.

Anodised aluminium was in its infancy- and achieving colour matching next to impossible. So each green lid was slightly different across the whole set of five canisters [and added to this of course, is colour fading over time.] Meanwhile bakelite technology was forty years old- you could get any colour you wanted there.

The size of this canister tells you something about the storage of sugar in the 40s. This canister was second in size only to the Flour canister. Everything else in the series was smaller: Suet, Rice, Tea and coming up last, Coffee. My how things have changed in the modern world! [Coffee should always be the largest!- and what the hell is suet?]

The canister has a few dings due to age, but the anodised aluminium base and lid are in good condition. The canister is for sale: $AUD45

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