Tom Sanders

Lidded red earthenware jar

Made in 1962 by Tom Sanders, the sombre rounded form and teal colouring is enlivened by Miro like sgraffito drawings. The handles suggest a function perhaps lost in the mists of time.

It is a substantial piece, 30 cm high and shows in its imagination and wit the influence of his friend David Boyd, whom he regarded as pioneering some of the best pottery made in Australia.

His long association with the Boyd family began in the mid-forties at the newly-set-up Arthur Merric Boyd (AMB) Pottery in Murrumbeena. Later, he was one of a number of Melbournians who turned up at the Boarding House in Neutral Bay, Sydney, where David Boyd was staying, and where Guy Boyd had set up a pottery in the backyard. While studying sculpture at the East Sydney Technical College, Sanders worked for a time with Guy as a decorator before joining David and his new wife Hermia in Paddington to help with their ‘Hermia’ ware.

Sanders returned to Melbourne in 1949. An advertisement in the Argus shows that, by the end of that year, he was selling ceramic wares through Georges Department Store under the name ‘Dorian Sands’.

The Argus (Melbourne), Saturday 10 December 1949, page 5
The Argus (Melbourne), Saturday 10 December 1949, page 5

He worked at the Hoffmann pottery in East Brunswick, with John Barnard Knight in South Yarra. and with Arthur Boyd and John Perceval at the AMB pottery, before setting up his own studio with his first wife Elizabeth in Eltham in 1954.

Eltham at that time was a popular retreat for artists, with a European-style colony at Montsalvat and Clifton Pugh’s Dunmoochin at nearby Cottles Bridge. Heide, home of the art patrons Sunday and John Reed, was just across the river at Bulleen. The Sanders pottery operated in a very similar way to the AMB Pottery, producing a range of commercial wares, with visiting potters, painters and friends, including Arthur and Guy Boyd, helping with the decoration. Barry Humphries opened an exhibition at Eltham and teased him about making a living from ashtrays.

One of six murals he made in 1968 for the Southland Shopping Centre in Cheltenham, Melbourne.

Source: Known potter #44: Tom Sanders