Carmel Pottery Adelaide, Gemma DeRidder
Carmel Pottery began around 1959 after the Carmelite Nuns at their Adelaide Glen Osmond Convent were taught the techniques of throwing, glazing and firing by a former graduate of the South Australian School of Arts and Crafts Thelma Fisher, who had learnt her technique from Kelly Koster of Kosters Pottery.
Koster had a precise and mathematical approach to throwing forms on the wheel, and this technique was passed down through Fisher to the Carmelite Nuns.
It was the simplicity of form, and sense of perfection about the pieces which first attracted me to the work of the Nuns. Originally 2 sisters were taught by Thelma Fisher – sister Gemma DeRidder and Sister St John.
Their work was sold from the convent as “Carmel” Pottery. Gemma went on to teach some of the other Nun’s the basic skills, and a productive pottery resulted. Gemma applied for a Churchill Fellowship to study ceramics further overseas during this period, but was rejected on the basis that she was a Nun.
Gemma left the convent in the late 1970’s to set up her own pottery under the name of Carmel-Gem in the southern suburbs of Adelaide. I’m not sure when the Carmel Pottery at the Convent ceased production, but It was still operating in the 1980’s.
In 2008 the beautiful convent and its massive grounds with olive groves was closed and later sold.
Gemma developed and experimented with techniques including a beautiful banding pattern by created by experimenting with combinations of oxides, which became a her signature style. Gemma also experimented with clay bodies by adding beach sand to achieve the perfect texture. She made a wide variety of wares including dinner setttings, canisters, sculptural pieces, vases etc.