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2011/96/1 Vase and platter, slip cast earthenware, made by Jedda Pottery, possibly decorated by Daisy Merton, Neutral Bay, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1955. Click to enlarge.

Vase and platter made by Jedda Pottery

Made
These pieces are significant as examples of the impact of the film 'Jedda' in introducing Aboriginal culture into the Anglo-Saxon-dominated cultural psyche of mainstream 1950s Australia. The Jedda Pottery was started in Sydney in 1955, and it was surely no coincidence that a film by the name of 'Jedda' had been released to great critical acclaim and commercial success in January of that year. The film, which tells the story of an Aboriginal girl raised in white society with no knowledge of her …

Summary

Object No.

2011/96/1

Object Statement

Vase and platter, slip cast earthenware, made by Jedda Pottery, possibly decorated by Daisy Merton, Neutral Bay, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1955

Physical Description

Slipcast earthenware vase and platter with glaze and sgraffito decoration. The vase is cylindrically shaped with a bulbous centre and depicts a stylised Indigenous Australian figure with sgraffito detail against a yellow ground of horizontal strokes. The platter is low and egg-shaped and depicts an Indigenous Australian male figure in sgraffito detail against a black ground.

Marks

Please see parts.

Production

Notes

The vase and platter were made by Jedda Pottery in Neutral Bay, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1955. They were possibly decorated by Daisy Merton.

History

Notes

The vase and platter were given as 'gifts of appreciation' in the 1950s to Mary Nappa of Mascot, Sydney, who displayed them in her home until 2010 when she donated them to the Powerhouse Museum.

Jedda
Encyclopaedia of Australian Potters' Marks, Geoff Ford, 2002, p. 130:
"Jedda Pottery was set up in Neutral Bay, Sydney in 1955. A small variety of slip cast plates, vases, bowls, jugs, etc., decorated with Aboriginals or Aboriginal motifs, some by Daisy Merton, were made and marked 'Jedda / AUSTRALIA' "

Daisy Merton (1889-1972)
Encyclopaedia of Australian Potter's Marks, Geoff Ford, 2002, p. 130:
p.162: "Merton, Daisy Victoria (1889-1972). In 1923 she began hand decorating pottery in the artistic department of Norman Hielman's in Chippendale, Sydney. These vases were finished with lacquer, not glazed, and few have survived. In 1934 as a talented decorator, she started working for Bakewell Brothers and hand painted a variety of vases, jugs, etc., with gum leaves, nuts and blossoms or country landscapes. Most were marked with a Black underglaze 'Newtone Pottery Sydney' stamp along with 'Hand Painted', some she signed. In 1939 she left Bakewell's and set up a studio pottery at Baldface Point, near Blakehurst and began decorating a variety of slip cast animals, kookaburras, koalas, parrots, White wreaths, etc. In 1952 she moved to Neutral Bay, and in the mid 1950s hand decorated a few pieces for the 'Jedda Pottery'. In the late 1950s she moved to Manly and took up oil painting."

Australian Art Pottery, 1900-1950, Keith Free, 2004, p. 260:
"Merton, Daisy (act. c.1930-1950s), Potter and china painter, Sydney
Daisy Victoria Merton (1891-1972) was born in Sydney, the daughter of Charles and Margaret Blackman. She developed a life-long of the bush and bush life from her childhood and schooldays spent in the Snowy Mountains area of New South Wales. Her artistic talent was encouraged and she took painting lessons. In 1917 she married John Merton, a returned soldier, and during this period she did pokerwork. The death of her husband in 1929 left Merton with three small sons to support. Her first job was in the artistic department of Norman Heilman's firm in Chippendale, Sydney, where she soon became the principal artist, decorating lacquered vases with pokerwork. In 1934 she moved to Bakewell Bros Pottery, where she decorated ornamental groups for the Newtone Art Pottery range and painted underglaze decoration on vases and bowls. In 1939, following the advice of Jack Moss, who had trained at the Royal Doulton Pottery in England, Merton set up her own kiln and went into business for herself, producing ceramic wreaths for cemeteries and a range of slip-cast figures of koalas and kookaburras which she supplied to gift shops. During World War II she also made utilitarian, domestic wares. In the 1950s she moved to Neutral Bay and worked for the Jedda Pottery. After her retirement she continued painting under the name of Victoria Merton.
Merton's work for Newtone Pottery comprised the decorating of blanks with flora and fauna motifs, usually kookaburras, gum blossoms and landscapes in a blue tonality; these pieces have always been popular, communicating Merton's uncomplicated love of the bush and its creatures. There were also some more individual pieces, some hand-built and others decorated with charioteers, tulips and ornamental vines, which display more innovative colour and design."

Australian Pottery of the 19th and early 20th Century, Marjorie Graham, 1979, p. 135-6:
"Commercially produced pottery with free-hand painted decoration was not the mainstay of any Australian maker in the 1930s. However, around 1937, Bakewells were promoting vases and ornamental jugs which were decorated in this way. The wares were in the Newtone group, and are usually so marked, accompanied by hand painted-whether brush-signed by the artist or not. Bush scenes in blue monochrome, and a fuller palette; gum blossoms, and kookburras were painted by factory artists, and pieces signed 'D.V. Merton' have attracted attention. This lady was Mrs Daisy Victoria Merton who, like 'Miss Mitchell', had worked as an artist before coming to Bakewells."

The Jedda Pottery was started in Sydney in 1955, and it was surely no coincidence that a film by the name of 'Jedda' had been released to great critical acclaim and commercial success in January of that year. The film, which tells the story of an Aboriginal girl raised in white society with no knowledge of her heritage and who is abducted by a young Aboriginal man, captured the imagination of the public and was described in newspapers of the time as a "daring and unique film experiment" ('Northern Standard', 21 May 1953) - both as the first Australian feature film to be shot in colour, and as the first film to feature indigenous Australians in starring roles. The film's sweeping technicolour panoramas of the landscapes of the Northern Territory and the charismatic screen presence of the lead Aboriginal actor, Robert Tudawali, inspired a flourishing of interest in Aboriginal and pseudo-Aboriginal art. It seems that the Jedda pottery was made to cater to the desires of this mid-1950s zeitgeist with its stylised and even caricature-like depictions of Aboriginal Australians, and reinforced by the connection with the name of the film.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Mary Nappa, 2011

Acquisition Date

5 October 2011

Cite this Object

Harvard

Vase and platter made by Jedda Pottery 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 2 December 2021, <https://ma.as/422060>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/422060 |title=Vase and platter made by Jedda Pottery |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=2 December 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}