Located in Holbrook, N.S.W. this museum is dedicated to 19th and early 20th century pottery in Australia.

Holbrook is a country town located just off the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne. Notable for the World War 11 submarine located in a park on the main street, the town is also the home of a unique collection of early Australian ceramics.

The National Museum of Australian Pottery

This private Museum was established in 1995 by Geoff and Kerrie Ford and opened in its current Holbrook location in 2006.

Housed in a former general store, the collection of over 2,000 ceramics is displayed over two levels. Well- lit and accessibly displayed examples of pottery made in Australia are accompanied by excellent notes and photographs that enhance the understanding of these works.

Early pieces produced in Australia and the initial potteries enterprises were established by English convicts transported to Australia from places such as Stoke-on-Trent, where they had learnt the skill of making pottery wares for domestic consumption. The first piece to enter the collection was a small ginger beer jar that intrigued the Ford’s when they acquired the piece. It was made by Jonathon Leak, as evidenced by the potter’s mark. Leak, born in 1779, was transported for life to Australia for committing a robbery. This find of an early colonial pottery piece with the makers mark inspired the collection that now comprises domestic pottery from over 300 companies that were established between European settlement and 1920.

Striking amongst the works are the numbers devoted to ginger beer, beer and especially water filtering devices of varying sizes. Filtering water, prior to the availability of under-the-sink devices found today, was a vital commodity in ensuring the health of the community.

Besides reflecting the importance of ceramics prior to the introduction of plastics, the collection also reflects changing technologies and tastes. The introduction of uniquely Australian motifs is particularly interesting amongst the decorative works, especially from the period around federation in 1901.

Geoff and Kerrie Ford have both been recognised by the Australian Government for, amongst other things, their services to the history of Australian Ceramics and Geoff is the author of a number of books on the subject.

The museum is open 9.30-4.30 Thursday to Tuesday and guided tours can be arranged by contacting the owners.

Web site: www.australianpottery.net.au

Contributed by Ann Proctor and Margaret White, SEACS Life Members