THE RIVERBANK was alive at the end of February for the 23rd annual Warrandyte Pottery Expo.
Ceramic artists from across Australia presented their work to another record-breaking crowd.
More than 60 stands featured over 90 local and interstate potters.
The event also combined local live music, food and wine, hands-on clay activities, talks, and demonstrations.
Various ceramic techniques and clays were used to create an extensive selection of sculptures, functional ware, and garden ceramics.
The excitement around the event commenced on Friday as potters and volunteers set up.
Saturday became a burst of energy.
Eager buyers and collectors filled the Expo site on the riverbank.
New for 2023
A new event at this year’s Expo, the Pottery Throw Down, took place on Sunday.
Sponsored by Northcote Pottery and run by Ray Laurens, crowds gathered to watch competitors compete to throw a pot on the wheel using 2.5kg of clay.
One of our winners was a visitor all the way from Ireland.
In conjunction with the Expo, the Valley Potters opened a pop-up ceramics exhibition featuring works from their members that ran from Friday to Sunday.
This new event attracted over 200 visitors.
A highlight of this year’s Expo were special guest potters from Western Australia (WA).
Fremantle will host the next Australian Ceramics Triennial in 2025, and the Expo was an opportunity for Western Australia to connect with other Australian ceramic artists and show their work.
While only six WA artists could travel to Warrandyte, the Ceramic Arts Association of Western Australia shipped selected works from 12 other artists to be featured in the guest artist marquee.
Following the Expo, WA ceramic artist Bernard Kerr held a workshop for potters to demonstrate the coil and throw technique for building larger-scale pots.
He combined this technique with paper stencils, slip decoration and sgraffito.
Attendees were treated to insights and techniques to help them with their own ceramic practices.
The annual potters’ prizes are a highlight of the two-day event.
The judges this year were our guest potters from WA.
Two potters shared the Michael Hallam INCA Award for innovative contemporary ceramics, presented to the artists by Rob Edwards from Warrandyte Riverside Market, who sponsored the award.
The winners were Gillian Martin and Natasha Chant.
Gillian was awarded for her innovative techniques using terra sigillata bands of intense colour.
Gillian said she was “excited, and it was an honour to receive the award and be part of such an encouraging ceramics community”.
Natasha constructs visually exciting asymmetrical organic forms; Natasha’s work is unglazed, which allows various clay colours to speak and connect with the viewer.
The winner of the Warrandyte Lions Best Presented Stand was new stall holders Wonki Kim and Jeaha Lee.
The stand stood out with its elegant minimalist design, well-considered tableware display, and large white vessels.
The harmonious and superbly integrated stall also greatly utilised the natural surroundings.
Their pottery uses the Korean method of Buncheong, a traditional technique that utilises a white slip over a dark clay body.
Wonki said, “It was a great opportunity for us to be surrounded by so many other admirable potters and seeing their work motivates us to improve even further”.
The Potters’ Prize was announced on Sunday and is for the work of the favoured potter at the Expo.
The potters selected the winner, and this year’s winner was Minna Graham from Sailors Flat near Daylesford.
Minna’s prize is a piece from last year’s winner, Steve Williams, a potter from New South Wales.
Minna has donated a beautiful piece that is waiting for the 2024 winner.
Eltham-based artist Danni Bryant installed a new piece of work amongst the trees on the Expo site.
Titled Suspended Sanctuary — the multifaceted work made from porcelain consisted of hundreds of articulated pieces and fine porcelain beads strung between the trees.
This year, local studios Warrandyte Pottery Studio and Claytalk Monsalvat hosted one of the most popular parts of the expo, with clay provided by Northcote Pottery Supplies.
Budding sculptors used different coloured clays to re-create the Yarra river in 3D.
Others created and decorated leaves that will be added to an installation to create a wishing tree on the grounds of Warrandyte Pottery Studio, where tiles created by kids at last year’s Expo have become a bench seat.
Visitors learned from former Northcote Pottery Supplies artists in residence Claire Ellis and Emma Parker on the benefits of being in an artist residency.
Valley Potters shared insights from their members on their group and preparing for an exhibition.
Visitors also heard from WA artists and Max Campbell on how clay is made ready for potters.
Once again, The Pottery Expo was an enormous success, and the riverbank was vibrant with artists, local musicians, colour, stalls, locals, and visitors.
Planning is already underway for next year, where we hope to welcome back international artists and continue to grow the event and raise the quality of ceramic art on show.
Thanks to the Manningham City Council, Community Bank Warrandyte and our supporters and volunteers, the organisers and potters cannot wait to welcome you back in 2024.
Photos by Anna Marie and John Douch