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Posts from the ‘Australian Factories’ Category

Terra Ceramics Australia

Between 2009-2012 I was searching for information on some very interesting looking, modernist style pottery I had, labelled “Terra Ceramics”  – and I couldn’t find anything on the net. I held on the the pieces I had in the hope that one day information would come to light – which it now has. 

My first impressions were that the pottery was either Japanese or Eastern European. However all came to light last year when I came across another very impressive piece with the “Terra Ceramics” label and on searching the net again was very happy to find that the ever resourceful “Rameking” Blog had published a brief history of “Terra Ceramics” in 2013 which turns out to be an Australian based commercial Pottery, run by an exiled WW2 European refugee. You can read the full post about Terra Ceramics on that blog HERE

Terra Ceramics Australia - Orangic Divided Dish

Terra Ceramics Australia – Orangic Divided Dish – Photo Ray Garrod

From Rameking here is a brief summary:

“Terra ceramics was run by Bernhard Fiegel who arrived in Australia in 1939 as a stateless war refugee. ……Bernhard had trained as a potter in the Netherlands before coming to Australia. His ceramics business in Australia was set up in Ashfield, Sydney in 1946 and ran until the early 1980s. Bernard died in 1981, but just prior to his passing he had negotiated with a New Zealand company to use trademark “Terrra Ceramics” under licence. They initially used the same stickers as the ones from Australia, but later changed the label to “Terra Ceramics, New Zealand”

It is unclear if the company producing Terra Ceramics NZ is still operating or not – but they were in 2013 it seems. 

The output of Terra Ceramics was all slip-cast, and many pieces feature a hand painted design. The designs are painted with the skill and flair of a trained ceramicist. You can see from the pieces that the plaster moulds from which the forms were made were expertly and precisely formed. The forms created are also beautifully organic and flowing – but at the same time precise, and they have that very mid-century, slightly Eastern European flair about them I think.  

The output seems to have been utilitarian domestic ware – e.g. platters, teapots, cruets, lazy susans – but animal figurines (which were popular at the time) appear to have been an important part of the output from Terra Ceramics as well. During researching for this post it was also interesting to note that important and respected Australian Potter Bernard Sahm also worked at Terra Ceramics in 1956.

Over the past few years it seems a much clearer and documented picture of the work of Bernhard Fiegel is starting to emerge, and I think that the work of Fiegel is an important part in the jigsaw puzzle of Australia’s post-war ceramic history.

Terra Ceramics Australia - Organic Tri Divided Dish

Terra Ceramics Australia – Organic Tri Divided Dish – photo Ray Garrod

Terra Ceramics Australia - Organic Tri Divided Dish

Terra Ceramics Australia – Organic Tri Divided Dish – Photo Ray garrod

I have found several articles about Terra Ceramics on the Australian TROVE database. One is in an article from Women’s Weekly Australia 3rd Oct, 1956 –  featuring highlights of an exhibition of Australian Pottery at a Sydney Department store alongside pieces from Florenz and Studio Fisher.  The pieces from Terra Ceramics photographed in the article were a “lazy Susan” with individual dishes on a revolving wrought-iron base, and a condiment set on wooden tray. You can see the article archived in the TROVE database HERE . There is another entry on Bernhard Fiegel on TROVE here(part of which is the entry from Rameking mentioned above). And there are more tantalising snippets of information about Terra Ceramics if you search the Trove database.

There are a number of marks, stamps and labels on items from Terra Ceramics. The simplest is just an inscribed TC – perhaps this was the earliest mark before labels or stamps were produced – just a theory though.

The most common seems to be the label seen in the first photograph above, and often these pieces have kept their labels fortunately. 

(More photos after “read more”)

Read more

Kalmar Australia

I’ve long been a fan of the flamboyant style of ceramics produced by Kalmar Pottery in Australia during the 1950s and 1960s. Pieces from this pottery with their shiny lustre glazes and gold trim, display a high level of skill and craftsmanship. They are also representative of the very popular style of this era, purchased by the ordinary person for display in their home.

Kalmar was a husband and wife pottery operated by Irene and Julius Kalmar, emigrants from Hungary after World War II who arrived in Australia in 1949. Like so many post WWII emigrant and refugees Artists and Potters to Australia their contribution to the Art and Craft landscape of Australia was significant….but overlooked. There are some fascinating snippets in the TROVE Database about their escape from communist Hungary, and how they had to leave their children with their Grandmother for safety, to be finally re-united in Australia several years later for a huge monetary cost.

The Kalmar pottery operated in Sydney during the 1950s to the mid 1960s when it was forced into liquidation.

Irene was the modeller and decorator of the work, while husband Julius looked after all the other pottery processes. The name later changed to Australian Art Ceramics Products (AACP) when it was registered as a company, albeit short-lived.

Fish, Birds, Flowers, Cornucopia, and Animal Figurines were common subjects. The base of Kalmar pottery is usually (but not always) stamped with Kalmar and a form number. Some pieces will have both the Kalmar stamp and an AACP stamp.

After the pottery closed Irene apparently went on to creating mosaic murals according to the Australian Women’s Weekly which has an article about her mural works in February 1962. I’ve only read about these mosaic murals and can not find any photos of them – so would love to hear from anyone who has a record of them…or any other information I can add to the Kalmar story.


Kalmar Australia Pottery Kalmar Australia Pottery Kalmar Australia Pottery Kalmar Australia Pottery Kalmar Australia Pottery



Westminster Australia

You would think by it’s name, that “Westminster China” was British…but alas no…Australian!

I bought an interesting set of demitasse coffee cups by Westminster some time ago, and have just got around to looking at them properly.

Before now I can’t recall ever having heard of Westminster, but It is or was apparently quite a popular brand here going by the amount for sale online nowadays.

The wares are more traditional in style, mainly domestic, with some very smart designs from the 1950s to 1970s. They also produced quite a lot of souvenir ware for the Australian market.

This design stood out to me at auction with its strong pattern and retro black and gold look. It appears to be from the 1960s.

Westminster Australia

Westminster Australia

There is an excellent website for Westminster Australia, set up by a keen collector. It has a lot of excellent information including history, pattern numbers/names, backstamps and more.

This is an excerpt of the history of Westminster Fine China from the website….I recommend going to the website to see a lot more of the interesting history of this producer.

Westminster Fine China Australia started in the Melbourne suburb of Cheltenham at 7 Arnold Street, in 1954 by Stanley Rogers and Son Ltd.  They moved to 228 Bay Road, Sandringham in 1977 into a 60,000 square foot ( about 5,500 square metres) building that housed the factory, warehouse, office and showroom.  They initially used imported blanks from Japan, which were made to their specifications, and which were then decorated locally.  They produced a standard range of shapes for souvenir ware, later expanding into a wide range of tea sets, dinnerware and many other styles of china ware.

In the early days, skilled staff were brought into Australia from both the United Kingdom and Italy and the focus was on the souvenir and giftware trade.  In the late 1960s they introduced to the Australian market a range of medium weight porcelain hotel ware under theFineceram brand and later registering another brand, Duraceram, in 1984. By this time, Westminster was part of a wider organization called Badgin Nominees Pty Ltd, presumably a holding company for the Rogers family interests.  The 1980s also saw the production of a large number of limited edition plates for other companies.

Westminster had an in-house art department that put together the designs, and used computer generated designs in the later stages of the companies life.  These were placed onto the pieces by ceramic transfer printing and fired to seal them onto the items in  large capacity electric kilns .In the late 1980s and early 1990s there are blanks made in  both Japan and Taiwan and marked with the last of the Westminster  markings. 


Westminster Australia

Westminster Australia – image via “FunkyKoala” Etsy

Westminster Australia

Westminster Australia – image via “youvintagekitsch” Etsy