I came across this very smart modernist looking Noritake Japan vase recently. It is a very impressive piece, about 25cm tall, in a stylised “tree trunk” form popular in the 1950s and 1960s. It has a timeless colour scheme and pattern, but its mark indicates it was produced from around 1953.
This pattern was never named or assigned a pattern number, which was not unusual for this era, and I have been unable to find any other examples of either the shape or pattern on any other Nortiake pieces.
As with all Noritake of this era, the quality and finish is very high.
Maigonis (Mike) Daga (1923-2001) was born in Latvia, and immigrated to Australia in 1948 as a refugee, where he attended the Adelaide School of Art studying sculpture.
From 1954-1964 he ran a successful commercial pottery studio in Adelaide, after which he re-located to Minneapolis in the U.S. opening a studio there around 1970. His sons continued to run the studio after his death until very recently. (The last record I can find of it operating is in 2008)
His earlier Australian work consisted of modernist, slip cast forms which this ewer style vase typifies, but he is more widely known in the U.S. for his sculptural animal forms on granite plinths. Some of these figurines have a modernist look to them, others a more traditional look.
His work is usually signed “Daga” to the base most often.
His Australian pieces are also very similar stylistically to those of Gunda Pottery made around the same time in Melbourne by fellow Latvian, Gundars Lusis…although I find the pieces from Gunda are a bit more streamlined and refined in their forms and finishes.
It was in the U.S. where Daga really refined his style.
The above was first published on my previous website retropottery.net on May 15, 2014 and has been coped without permission onto at least 1 other website I have found.
Colin Melbourne (1928-2009) ranks highly along with the best of British Ceramic Designers of the 20th Century. It seems surprising that his work is not more widely known and appreciated outside the U.K, but many of his designs seemed to be ahead of their time.
The vase below I came across late last year is from Melbourne’s “Petra” – a series of several different camouflage style patterns for Royal Norfolk, Staffordshire, c late 1950s.
Colin Melbourne “Petra” Series Vase
Colin also produced a now very collectable series of animals for Beswick, another for Midwinter and one for Bossons. Colin also worked with David Queensberry on a series called “Drumlanrig Melbourne” with striking abstract patterns. You can see examples of most of these series on the UK website RetroSelect .
I think though, one of Melbourne’s most striking series was “Memphis”, for Crown Devon c1960. Read more