Diana wall pocket vases
made in Sydney, Australia 1950s
I have posted much about Diana, a Marrickville [Sydney] pottery that produced from 1940 to 1975. I live very close to Marrickville, so became fascinated with this pottery and um…collected…a…bit…of it….. .. .. . .
By the late 50s Diana was experimenting with ‘Australian’ colours [read: bush colours] and moving away from the classic 50s pastels of powder blue, baby pink, soft yellow, etc. These wall pocket vases were also made in those colours, but now they were being hand-coloured with the greens and browns of the eucalypt bushland.
The hand-applied glaze meant that no two vases were the same- and the new colours were enthusiastically taken up by a community eager to embrace new concepts of nationalism. Every vase shape and form was re-created using the new colourway; so you have art deco inspired shapes – to more modernist, assymetrical shapes- but now having the new nationalist colours.
These three wall pockets are part of my own collection- but alas- I do not have the wall space to do them justice and they have been boxed up for a decade. It’s now time they went to someone’s wall – to display eucalyptus sprays – of course!
This is part of my personal collection: you will recall that I like Diana pottery [originally made right near where I now live] – in the colours of green/brown [Australiana- nationalistic colours discovered in the 40s and 50s.] These nationalistic colours- reminiscent of the Australian bush – are dear to me as a landscape architect.
So- while I have many other Diana pottery on the blog for sale, I continue to collect this green/brown Diana from the late war period. Diana was starting to embrace & recognise colours that made Australia unique.
Then the 70s happened. I don’t collect Diana ware from the 70s- with the exception of the brutalist ‘Safari’ set [see blog below.] The rest of the 70s collection- when the pottery finally closed- is made up of either bland brown or gaudily covered flora. That was the crazy 70s- either abstract nothingness or super-charged vibrancy.
My regular readers know how much I love Diana pottery- made in a pottery near where I now live, in Marrickville, Sydney from 1940 to 1975. I especially love the 40s and 50s pottery…and until recently have not so much enjoyed the 70s [having actually lived through it in Australia– it was rough.]
BUT now I have a photographer son- who takes all my images- and he totally embraces the 70s. Where I see brutalist brutalism, he sees a weird, fresh take on colour and form.
I have not- I note- seen him embrace my love of the 40s and 50s. I have tried. Lord knows. Parental responsibility is taken seriously. But- no dice. Clearly, we can only embrace that which we have not personally lived through. Until… we see it through fresh eyes.
For Diana ‘Safari’ aficionados- I have other pieces available on the blog. And- the goblets are for sale: $AU25. They are in great vintage condition. Buy Now
Diana made art pottery out of premises that operated in Marrickville, Sydney from 1940 to 1975. Unlike many other Sydney–based potteries of the time, Diana made only domestic and art pottery, rather than industrial items – capitalising on the huge demand for domestic wares with an ‘Australiana theme’.
This small vase is a double from my collection, so I am reluctantly parting with it. It was also manufactured in classic 50s colours [powder pink, baby blue] and also came in a lustreware glaze. This vase comes from the ‘Australiana’ collection; it is hand-painted in bushland colours; and it also came in a eucalyptus green colour. Because the vases are hand-painted there is quite a variation in the glazed colours: you can just see some green tones creeping into the bark-coloured brown tones.
The vase is in excellent vintage condition, and is for sale: $AU25
Melbourne tray, made in Hong Kong, 1960s Hornsea sugar bowl, made in England, 1960s Diana ramekins, made in Australia, 1960s.
An ode to 60s kitschiness – a bar tray featuring the beautiful city of Melbourne in the 60s- terrible image, much touched-up and with an explanatory label; a green ‘Heirloom’ sugar bowl, stoneware designed and produced by John Clappison in 1966 for Hornsea; and a pair of Diana ramekins, made in Marrickville, Sydney in the late 60s.
A range of 60s aesthetics: the tacky, the patterned and the late-modernist. All now very desirable and collectable. People collect bar-themed paraphenalia [‘barphenalia’] – Hornsea is oh-so collectable now, and Diana pottery [and ramekins especially] is becoming very desirable.
All these items are in good vintage condition, and are for sale: Melbourne bar tray: $AU20, Hornsea Heirloom sugar bowl: $AU25, and the Diana ramekins: $AU20.
This is an image of bookshelves I designed for our front entrance room. The bookshelves were envisaged as a series of ‘boxes’ to allow me to catalogue the books, and as a framing device for parts of my collection. I can change the ensemble pieces around easily – and so far it’s half / half between the books and the collection. These pieces are 40s and 50s Diana, from a pottery that operated in Marrickville, Sydney from 1940 to 1975. Diana pottery had many iterations, but I like these brown and green coloured pieces the best, and I particularly like those jugs with the quasi-kangaroo leg shapes.
I don’t think I can part with my brown-and-green Diana collection, but thought I could use the shelving device to showcase other parts of the collection that I can reluctantly say goodbye to.
Diana ‘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!]
This is a fantastic Diana jug- described as J4 and selling for 9/- in 1950, when it was made. That’s 9 shillings- 9 ‘bob’ in the old parlance [or just less than half a pound!]
The jug was produced in this matt white glaze, and the brown and green drip glaze that has featured previously on this blog. I collect Diana in the brown & green colourings- but love the deco stylings of this jug and am sorely tempted to keep it.
I’ve styled the jug as a vase- the matt white glaze looks fabulous with the off-white colour schemes of most contemporary walls- and it’s nice to have a retro piece that has a few functions.
Some more of my Diana pottery collection- an inter-war pottery manufacturer located very close to where I now live. The pottery operated from 1940 to 1975 – and these vases evidence a post-war nationalism in the use of drip glaze colours : the particular Australian browns and greens of the Eucalypts.
Winter is daffodil time in Sydney: I like the colours here and particularly like the Diana vases on the timber table. Daffodils and Eucalypts are a bit of a mixed metaphor – but the old adage that a group of three a collection makes, I think, is true.
I have shared my fascination with Diana Pottery many times on this blog- and having just sold some iconic Flannel Flower pieces, thought I’d post this rather more kitschy ‘prawn’ collection.
Picture this: it’s the mid 50s in Australia. Nationalism and modernism are joining forces in artistic expressionism and so Diana comes up with : prawns. Prawns as an emblem of a new national dish. Prawns because we have whopper sizes in Australia. Prawns, because they are easily rendered in clay and are a simple, easily recognised form…and prawns because- well every other national dish was already taken.
We see here a large platter with fluting and capacity for two different dipping sauces in the middle; a sauce boat and saucer [presumably for tartare sauce] and a side plate- all with painted red prawns as handles, and the same fluting. Accompanying these are two ramekins and a sauce boat – with handles in the form of prawns, but unpainted.
There is much conjecture in the world of Diana collectors as to whether the absence of colour/paint/glaze on these matt white pieces is intentional, or whether they were merely unfinished. There are many pieces that have the same moulding or casting of figurative elements as pieces that were hand-painted but were sold unpainted- vases, plates, ramekins, the lot. My own feeling [and completely unsubstantiated opinion] is that the unpainted pieces were entirely intentional…one could mix and match with the painted pieces and not be quite so overwhelmed with bright red prawns. And I say this as a person dedicated and entirely wedded to kitsch. Even I have limits.
This collection comprises six pieces which are all in good condition -and is for sale: $AUD175