Association Incorporated

Our History

1974 – Club Founded

In February 1974 the Warwick Arts Council through the tutorial school of Mrs. Joan McLellan held a raku school to introduce the craft of pottery to interested people. The tutor was Mrs. Betty Crombie, who had studied pottery with Rex Coleman at the Memmott Studios and at the Brisbane Central Technical College. Betty was a past resident of Warwick, having taught science and held the position of joint headmistress at the Presbyterian Girls College. The raku school was a success and inspired the participants to form the Warwick Potters’ Association. Initially, the rooms of the Warwick Coaching College in the grounds of St. Catherine’s were made available for working and meeting. The Warwick Potters’ Association formed on the 1st of March 1974 and the first committee members were Betty Prendergast (President), Jan Hannah (Secretary) and Win Hooker (Treasurer). There were 16 founding members. The first meeting of the Warwick Potters’ Association was on Tuesday, 12th of March 1974.

With the closing of the coaching school, the club were granted permission to use the old science block at the Presbyterian Girls College, which was at the time, unused.

Raku Course under Betty Crombie – February 1974 – “First Firing” l to r: Lola McKee, Jean Cox, Helen Madsen, Sandy Amos, Betty Prendergast, ?, Betty Crombie, Mavis Loy, ? and Dr Judith Best

1978 – First Craft Market in Leslie Park

The Warwick Potters’ sponsored the first craft market on the morning of the Warwick Rodeo weekend with seven stalls.

1979 – First Exhibition (1st Rodeo Exhibition)

The first exhibition was held in the telephone exchange rooms above the Warwick post office. Thirteen members exhibited their work, which was opened by the Warwick Mayor, Mr. Barry Masters on the 23rd of October 1979. On display were 260 pieces of pottery.

The Warwick Potters’ who participated in the exhibition were : Kathy Brownsdon, Sandra Buchanan, Valda Busch, Betty Collins, Jan Hannah, John James, Lois James, Sandra Lamb, Helen Madsen, Betty Prendergast, Margo Robertson, Sue Schnitzerling and Phyllis Sweeney. There was no 1980 Rodeo Exhibition – instead the members voted to hold a Christmas Shop in the Town Hall. However, the Rodeo Exhibition was held again in 1981 and thereafter held yearly until 2005.

Pottery from the First Exhibition 23 Oct 1979 Source: WPA archives

1986 – Members Save Cottage

In July 1986, the Warwick Shire Council advertised for tender the removal of the dilapidated Waterworks’ Engineer’s Cottage (also known as the Superintendent’s Cottage) in Barnes Park. The club’s president at the time, Helen Madsen, saw the potential of the building not to be torn down or removed but leased to the Warwick Potters’. On the 10th of July, a letter of proposal to restore the cottage was drafted and mailed to the council. After much negotiation between the two parties, the council in a letter dated the 3rd of September, accepted the Warwick Potter’s proposal – the premises to be leased for a period of 25 years at $100.00 per year. An agreement was signed by the council and Warwick Potters’ on the 30th January of 1987.

The club also applied for Incorporation with the Justice Department in this year and incorporation was approved on the 23rd of June, 1987.

Plan of the Waterworks Engineer’s Cottage – 27 Aug 1877 by William Highfield, Under Secretary for Public Works, Queensland Government. Source: Queensland State Archives, ITM109572

The cottage, built in latter part of 1877 and completed by June 1878, needed a large sum of money to restore and create a premises suitable for the production of pottery. The committee submitted a grant application to the Arts Division of the Premier’s Department, Queensland State Government – which was approved on the 8th of September, 1987. The restoration was to be completed in three stages. The list of works was substantial – from repairing the foundations, re-stumping, adding a rail (although not authentic to the colonial cottage plans), replacing termite damage to any woodwork, electrical, building toilets and a kitchen, replacing the guttering and re-screwing the roofing. A kiln shed was built and finally a gallery created from three internal rooms. Works were finished in 1991.

1988 – Time Capsule created

During a two-day workshop at Potters’ Place, Ted Secombe made a large clay urn from three thrown pieces. He used about 140lbs of clay to make the urn. After drying, it was transported to Ray Tainton’s studio in Warwick, where he fired the urn. It was opened on the 27th of November 2010 and the contents displayed. 2010 members placed more pottery in the urn before resealing. It will be opened again during the club’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2024.

1992 – Official Opening

The official opening of “The Potters’ Place” was on Saturday, the 29th of February 1992. There was a craft fair, dinner and the first exhibition in the gallery – “Past Tutors” where approximately 15 past pottery tutors who had conducted workshops with the club members since 1974, exhibited their work.

Some early 1970s tutors were : Betty Crombie (1953-2003), Ivy Potiphar (1924-2007), Reg Potiphar (1925-2011), Kevin Brereton (1933-2008), Joyce Cotham (1909-1999), Bob Forster (1944- ), Dianne Peach (1947- ), Ivan Englund (1915-2007), Jean-Jacques Vaschalde (1944- ), Merv Feeney (1914-2003), Christine Currie, Ian Currie (1941-2011), Helen Tainsh and Vivien “Viv” Plant.

2006 – Jumpers & Jazz in July Markets

First Jumpers & Jazz in July Markets organised and run by the Warwick Potters’ Association Inc.

Official Opening of “The Potters’ Place” on Saturday, 29th February 1992.
Ted Secombe joining the urn together during the weekend workshop in April, 1988.

2008 – Jumpers & Jazz Exhibition in July

After the success of the first Jumpers & Jazz Exhibition in 2007, inspiration came to 2008 president, Sue Whitton – on opening night of the second Jumpers & Jazz Exhibition, you could purchase a bowl and receive a bowl of hot, complementary soup. As an added extra, entertainment was provided by Terry Clarke and Kerry Sinclair. Thus, the annual Warwick Potters’ “Soup Night” was born – now a signature event of the “Jumpers & Jazz Festival in July” held every year in Warwick.

2009 – 4th Life Member

In August 2009, the fourth life member, Gillian “Jill” Fraser was added to the club’s life members ; namely – Betty Prendergast, Helen Madsen and Betty Collins.

2015 – Totem Poles

Brainstormed by 2015 club president, Raye Batham, was the proposal for each pottery member to make a terracotta cube with their own design and name on it. Four poles were installed in front of the Potters’ Place building. The poles have been added to every year with new members adding their cube.

2024 – 50th Anniversary Celebration

In 2024, the Warwick Potters’ Association Incorporated will celebrate 50 years since the beginning of the club. Celebrations planned include : a published book, dinner, opening of the time capsule, history exhibition in our own Potters’ Place Gallery and group members’ exhibition at the Warwick Art Gallery.

Totem Poles : May 2022