I visited Bundoora Homestead last week. I've been meaning to get there for ages as they often host interesting exhibitions. The homestead is described as "a prominent example of the English Queen Anne Style as adapted to the Australian environment". Strangely, as a friend pointed out, all the steadily encroaching , recently built houses surrounding the property have attempted to emulate the style, creating quite a surreal environment. Hmmm.
I went there to see the exhibition of Bendigo Pottery Majolica wares curated by Gregory Hill. "Bendigo Pottery, established in 1878, is one of Australia's best known potteries and one of the few to produce majolica wares that were so popular in Western Europe during the late 19th century. "
It was a lovely way to view the wares, which were displayed in glass cabinets in four rooms on the second floor of this beautiful old home. The pieces themselves were...well... berserk. I mean that in the nicest possible way! I thoroughly enjoyed them - I don't want to own them or have them anywhere near my home - but I loved looking at them. How could you not enjoy a yellow and green ceramic dog, with a removable scalp, for storing tobacco?! And I'm sure at some point in history every home did deserve an extra large sardine dish.
I came away entertained and informed. I had not been aware that Bendigo Pottery produced this kind of work or that this is indeed Majolica. When I think of Majolica I think Italian Renaissance and stains painted on top of a white tin glaze. But as Joe Pascoe of Craft Vic mentioned in his opening remarks, and bless him for his transparency, Wikipedia offers two definitions. This type of majolica work is defined as "ceramics made in the 19th century with molded surfaces and colorful lead glazes".
Colourful glazes - well yes, that is one way of putting it. A glaze palette of blues, greens, browns and yellows was called upon repeatedly and with abundance for nearly every piece, with the occasional pink thrown in for good measure. As you may have gathered, this is not really my 'cup of tea', but I was intrigued by the resulting allusion to the Australian landscape and the similarities with Merric Boyd's pottery. Bendigo Pottery's majolica wares predate Boyd.
I have a timely day trip to Bendigo Pottery planned for this Sunday. I look forward to further surprises.