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


Prototype of the female

This 10 cm dish is an early ceramic work of Tom Sanders (1924-2008).

Émile Zola published his novel Nana in 1880.

Flaubert wrote Zola an effusive letter praising the novel in detail. In summation he wrote: “Nana tourne au mythe, sans cesser d’être réelle”. (Nana turns into myth, without ceasing to be real.)

Nana opens in 1867, the year of the World Fair, when Paris, thronged by a cosmopolitan elite, was a perfect target for Zola’s scathing denunciation of hypocrisy and fin-de-siècle moral corruption.

The fate of Nana, the Helen of Troy of the Second Empire, is now rendered in stylish English.

Prompted by his theories of heredity and environment, Zola set out to show Nana, “the golden fly”, rising out of the underworld to the height of Parisian society. In July 1870, outside her window the crowd is madly cheering “To Berlin! To Berlin!” to greet the start of the Franco Prussian War, which will end in defeat for France and the end of the Second Empire.

Niki de Saint Phalle called a series of her sculptures “Nanas”. She explained that her title evoked the prototype of the female: Eve! Aphrodite! Nana de Zola! Inusable! Increvable! (Eve! Aphrodite! Zola’s Nana! Everlasting! Indestructible!).

Tom Sanders

After serving in the Royal Australian Air Force as an Aircraftsman in WW2, Tom Sanders worked in Guy Boyd’s Sydney pottery as a potter and ceramic decorator. Tom moved back to Melbourne in 1949 and worked at the Hoffmann pottery in East Brunswick and with Arthur Boyd at Murrumbeena before setting up his own pottery “T & E Sanders” at Eltham.

Argus (Melbourne), Tuesday 15 November 1949, page 7
The Argus (Melbourne), Tuesday 15 November 1949, page 7


You Deserve Better

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Dorian Sands

Melbourne born Tom Percy Sanders (1924-2008) returned to Melbourne in 1949 and by the end of that year his ceramic wares were selling through Georges Department Store under the name ‘Dorian Sands’.


He continued to build his skills as a thrower and decorator at the Hoffmann pottery in East Brunswick, at the Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery in Murrumbeena, and with John Perceval. His early ceramic work is signed ‘Dorian Sands’.

Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW ) Saturday 4 November 1950, page 2
Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW ) Saturday 4 November 1950, page 2

He set up his own studio with his wife Elizabeth in Eltham in 1954. His ceramic work from 1954 is signed ‘Tom Sanders Eltham’. In 1956, he started work on the first of a series of ceramic murals with Lawrence Daws. In 1959, he and his family left for London and spent three years in Europe, where he made a series of sculptures. Work made in London is incised ‘T.P. Sanders, LONDON’.

Back in Australia, in 1964, he abandoned pottery to concentrate on mural work. In 1967, he worked with the painters John Olsen, Fred Williams and Jan Senbergs on a series of decorative plates. From 1971-80, he was forced to give up pottery due to illness and turned his attention to the design of tapestries. For a short time from 1980-83, he returned to pottery. Work made from 1961 onwards is signed ‘T.P. Sanders’ or ‘Tom Sanders’.

Tom Percy Sanders trained as a sculptor at East Sydney Technical College from 1947-49, after serving in the war. While in Sydney, he worked as a decorator for fellow student Guy Boyd, in what was to become the Martin Boyd Pottery. For a short time he also joined David and Hermia Boyd in the studio they had set up in Paddington to make ‘Hermia ware’.

‘Dorian Sands’

Orrefors glasses

Rhapsody-Clear by Orrefors

Plain Bowl & Stem, Clear: 1960 – 1995

Height: 125 mm or 5 inches, set of six available.

In the Swedish village Orrefors in Småland, Orrefors glassworks manufacture high quality crystal glassware and art glass.

Founded in 1898, the Orrefors glassworks started to produce drinking glasses in 1913. Orrefors hired the brothers Eugen and Knut Bergkvist, who had worked at Kosta Boda, as well as Fritz Blomqvist and Heinrich Wollman. Wollman originated from Bohemia, which had a long tradition in glassmaking. A major influence was the Art Nouveau work of the French artist Émile Gallé. The clean lines of brilliant crystal of their designs was greatly admired at the Paris Exhibition of 1925.