Premier Pottery Preston was set up by two potters, David Dee and Reg Hawkins, in 1929 during the Great Depression. It began production in 1930, located in the northern Melbourne suburb of Preston at 52 Oakover Road. Most Australian art pottery at the time was produced as a sideline by firms whose main business was making tiles, pipes, insulators and the like - albeit an important sideline in terms of surviving the hard times of the Depression. Premier Pottery Preston was a small undertaking, unusual in that it produced only art pottery, all of it hand-thrown. David Dee threw the pots, Reg Hawkins painted them, and David's son Walter Dee did the glazing and firing. The young Allan James was taken on as apprentice potter.
52 Oakover Road today
Stamp (slightly smudged)
"Premier Potteries, Oakover Road, Preston"
PPP 1930-1934 Un-numbered, pre-Early Series.
Pottery marked 'PPP' or 'Premier Potteries' was produced from 1930 to 1934. There were many shapes and several styles of decoration, but no numbering system until 1934 when PPP shapes in current production were allocated Early Series numbers along with Remued. However, PPP-marked pieces ceased production soon afterwards and numbered examples are consequently rare today. Their rarity undoubtedly accounts for some of the gaps in Early Series numbering in this catalogue. The great majority of PPP pieces are un-numbered, having been made prior to 1934.
PPP pieces encompassed a range of decorative styles. Most can be classified in one of three main categories;
1. PPP; Abstract 'colour-patch' decoration
In this style, different colours were applied by brush, sponged or sprayed. The resulting colour patches were often accentuated by black outlining.
Collection; Michael West auspottery.com
2. PPP; Figurative painted decoration
As well as abstract patterns, Reg Hawkins painted pictorial decoration on many pieces. Some show quite elaborately-painted pictures but the best-known are in the style of English Torquay Ware, often featuring a simple painting of a cottage and a hand-lettered 'motto'.
Drip-glazing relies on the running and merging of coloured glazes for its decorative effect, rather than the application of painted colour prior to glazing. As well as appearing on PPP pieces it was soon to emerge as the characteristic feature of Remued and Pamela pottery.
Collection; Stuart Lawson
Collection; Shepparton Art Gallery
Remued 1933-1934 Un-numbered, pre-Early Series.
The Remued name appears to have been introduced in 1933. Remued is the surname spelt backwards of Noni Deumer, who invested capital in the pottery and in 1934 married Reg Hawkins.
Un-numbered Remued pieces include shapes that are identical to numbered Early Series examples, but they also include shapes and styles of decoration that are not recorded anywhere in the Early Series. For example, experimentation with glazes and applied decoration saw wares featuring irregular organic tree-trunk shapes and matt glazing (perhaps inspired by Merric Boyd's 'Cruffel Ware'); also wattle blossom; water-lilies; and ivy leaves; not repeated later.
The studio potter Margaret Kerr was associated with Premier from about 1932 and introduced applied gumleaf and gumnut decoration that was to become such a characteristic feature of Remued pottery. David Dee and Allan James, and later John Castle-Harris, also created forms of applied decoration. The distinguishing features of each are discussed by Gregory Hill in the 'Gumnuts and Glazes' exhibition catalogue.
At first pieces were marked with the pottery name or the initials PPP painted or stamped on the base. In 1933 the name 'Remued' was introduced alongside PPP. 'Remued' plus sometimes the words 'Hand Made' were incised by hand in cursive script. At this stage shape numbering had not been introduced although it was soon to follow. There was considerable experimentation and innovation with glazes and applied decoration.
The name 'Pamela' was introduced in 1934. The Pamela Series is discussed separately; click here.