Jardiniere, stoneware, made by George Day / Mashman Brothers pottery, Auburn, New South Wales, 1932
George Day (1884-1966) arrived in Australia from England in 1886. He was head potter of the Mashman Brothers pottery in Sydney in the 1920s and 1930s where he specialised in modelling and mould making. Mashman Brothers Pottery had been established in Sydney in 1885 and like the English firm Doulton and Co, where they had trained, Mashman Brothers hired potters with special skills to make artwares. Most potteries established in Sydney in the late 19th century included a range of 'artwares' alongside their more commercial or industrial lines.
Day had trained under Alexander Murray, a teacher of modelling at Sydney Technical College where much emphasis was placed on the use of Australian motifs in the decorative arts. This salt glazed stoneware jardiniere by Day features modelled gum leaves, koalas and possums. It appears to have been one a number commissioned by the Mashman family in the early 1930s and is a rare signed example of Day's work. Significantly, the jardiniere presents a traditional ceramic form adapted in response to Australia's unique natural environment.
This is a rare signed jardiniere from George Day, the head potter of Mashman Brothers pottery, Sydney. George Day's son, Kenneth, recalls that there were a limited number of the jardinieres made, perhaps five or six (some with bases). At least three of these remain within the family, while one is in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. The provenance of this particular jardiniere is unknown although Kenneth Day thinks that it could have been made for Theo Mashman (a major shareholder), or perhaps for a Reverend Mashman. It seems to have remained in Sydney (acquired by Garry Beasley in early 1980s, and passed on to Peter Moreton in Glebe before going to Hurnall's in Melbourne).
The jardiniere displays George Day's enthusiasm for Australian motifs, not only in the sprays of modelled and applied gum leaves on the neck and the bowl, but especially in the fully three-dimensional models of a possum and a koala acting as a pair of lugs. This particular jardiniere is a salt-glazed version and has Day's signature and the date of its making inscribed under the koala. Another version made in 1923 is in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. This one has a pedestal. Kenneth Day says of the few he knows of, largely in the collections of Mashman families, very few have pedestals, although he said he believes his father originally intended to have fish tanks inside some of them.
George Day was born in London in 1884 and arrived in Australia with his parents in 1886. He studied art and ceramic modelling under Alexander Murray at Sydney Technical College (who designed the planter with fish decoration in the museum's collection). Day's working life was spent with Mashman Brothers pottery, Sydney, where he specialised in modelling and mould making and was head potter in the 1920s. The Day family was related to the Mashmans: both George Day's father (also named George) and his uncle, William Day, had begun working for Mashman Brothers in the mid 1880s. Although Day did have his own separate design studio Kenneth Day says most of his pieces were made at the pottery or at East Sydney Technical College. He died in Sydney in 1966.
Acquired from a market in the early 1980s by Garry Beasley (Antique Market, Parramatta Road), and sold to Peter Moreton, Ross Street, Glebe. He owned it for about seven years before selling it at the Sydney Antiqe Dealers Fair in November 1995 to Marvin Hurnall of Hurnall's in Melbourne.