Listed price of $68 is in AUSTRALIAN DOLLARS which is significantly less in American dollars.
Part of a large consignment of vintage Ellis pottery that will be listed in iNVISeDGE over upcoming weeks/months! Many of the pieces about to be listed are rare designs / have glazes I’ve never seen before (most have already sold immediately)! This piece was gifted to our vendor by the founders of Ellis pottery, Dagmar and Miloslav Kratochvil. Dagmar was a heavy smoker, so my vendors needed an ashtray for when the Kratochvil’s visited them in their home. This ashtray was used by Dagmar Kratochvil himself (!) You’re not going to get that back-story buying an Ellis ashtray off ebay! And this is not a story either (to help peddle an old ashtray)- it’s the truth! The vendors were NOT pottery collectors. All the items in this collection were gifted to our vendors by Dagmar and Miloslav. The mother of my vendor, Marcela Cechova, became fast friends of the Ellis pottery founders through their joint support of the Australian-published Czech newspaper “Hlas Domova” (Voice of Home). The mother of my vendor was a journalist and regular contributor of “Hlas Domova”.
This piece is being sold on behalf of our vendor from New Farm, Brisbane- please allow iNVISeDGE a week or two for us to get the piece out of storage after you commit to the purchase.
Additional story that came from researching Ellis Pottery further. (Please skip to Background Info and Provenance Section if you only have interest in the piece on offer.)
Despite the fact that Australian Ellis pottery is so highly-regarded and collectable there is little information out there about Ellis in books or even online. Some facts we do know …
- Dagmar and Miloslav Kratochvil, were political refugees who fled Czechoslovakia in 1951.
- Their studio was initially set up in the garage of their home in 1953.
- Orders from Myer / Grace Bros facilitated the expansion of their operation in the mid-1950’s.
- Their subsequent factory at 86 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford (near Melbourne) employed students at the local RMIT.
- Dasa and Milda Kratochvil regularly attended editorial meetings for the Australian-published newspaper called “Hlas Domova” (Voice of Home).
- Their factory ceased to exist in 1972.
- Their factory today in Abbotsford has no trace of their existence and there is very little documentation in books or online about the now-famous Ellis pottery firm.
- Despite their now rather obscure history, Ellis Pottery has done a lot to help Australian handicrafts / art sit proudly alongside international offerings from the same era.
This is yet another story of resilience and success that has coloured Australia’s rich history in the Arts. Australia’s indigenous artists are regarded as some of the best in the world. On top of this many artists who fled Europe and settled here in Australia as a result of political unrest / World War II, went on to become some of Australia’s most celebrated artists ever, including Dagmar and Miloslav Kratochvil. In my time setting up and running iNVISeDGE, I have read time and time again stories of refugees who set up industries in their garages and went on to achieve success they could only dream of. Many of these people came to Australia with no physical assets and the trauma of having to flee home and venture into the unknown. We can all learn from their industriousness and resilience.
Dagmar and Miloslav Kratochvil BOTH worked two jobs, slaving for 18 hours a day for years (oh I know the feeling only too well) to get to a point where they could afford to set-up their studio in the garage of their home. I, too, set up in my garage until the point where I started to actually get somewhere and local Council closed me down! (And yes that was a major blow to iNVISeDGE- even though I was doing nothing wrong- making no noise at all etc- I was basically using my garage for storage only which is not against the law.) Once the Kratochvil’s work received the recognition it deserved, their industriousness didn’t stop (it was just the start of what Ellis pottery would later become).
My vendor’s mother was with the Kratochvils and helped them close the Ellis factory in 1972 after nearly 2 decades of creative pursuit. I would love to be able to go back to 1972 and be a fly on the wall as this factory was being closed. What was the feeling as they went about closing 2 decades of creation? Were their hearts breaking or celebrating achievements? I suspect it was a bittersweet moment for all who were there. It breaks my heart that no businesses like Ellis have survived and now mass-produced “rubbish” that quickly ends up as landfill reigns supreme. These days, Australia seems only good at destroying the environment in the pursuit of uncovering fossil fuels we don’t even need! The whole idea makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time!
What’s ironic is that COVID-19 may actually pave the way for small LOCAL CREATIVE industry to POSSIBLY prosper again. God only knows how many Australian small businesses in the last decade have largely “slogged their guts out” and got absolutely nowhere. Drowned by INTERNATIONAL CONGLOMERATES that exist because of the greed of their founders and their overseas share-holders, small business in Australia- small businesses like what Ellis became- have virtually no chance of achieving the types of success possible in the 1950’s. I pray that COVID-19 may create a new normal. Instead of this virus forcing us apart and away from each other, I pray that COVID-19 eventually brings us together and paves the way for LOCAL CREATIVE industry to prosper again like it did back in the 1950’s.
If about HALF of us started to value what we should be valuing (ie. LOCAL INDUSTRY) I think we might just be able to start living with peace and love in our hearts again instead of destruction, violence and bitterness. I pray that this major reform becomes a reality. If this is possible (and I believe it is), we will return back to the heyday of the 1950’s where we actually knew the people in our community who created the furniture we sat on, the decorative items we revered so much, the food we ate and the meals that were prepared with so much love at our one and only local restaurant…
Background Info and Provenance
(This description was written in 2021.)
A ceramic/pottery ashtray created by Ellis. This dates back to the 1960’s. This is one of the best Ellis ashtrays I’ve seen. This piece was gifted to our vendor by the founders of Ellis pottery, Dagmar and Miloslav Kratochvil. Dagmar was a heavy smoker and so my vendors needed an ashtray for when the Kratochvil’s visited them in their home(!) This ashtray was actually used by Dagmar Kratochvil himself- you’re not going to get that back-story buying an Ellis ashtray off ebay! And this is not a story to help peddle an old ashtray- it’s the truth! The vendors were NOT pottery collectors. All the items in this collection were gifted to our vendors by Dagmar and Miloslav. The mother of my vendor, Marcela Cechova, became fast friends of the Ellis pottery founders through their joint support of the Australian-published Czech newspaper “Hlas Domova” (Voice of Home). The mother of my vendor was a journalist and regular contributor of “Hlas Domova” which was published in Australia for decades.
The beautiful stylized shapes of Ellis pottery won hearts quickly back in the day, so much so that the Kratochvil’s setup in their garage at home quickly became inadequate. When Myer / Grace Brothers started placing large orders, they moved into a factory in Nicholson Street, Abbotsford (not far from Melbourne). The Kratochvil’s employed a team of more than 15 people, many of whom were students from the Art Department of the RMIT.
For many (myself included) searching for Ellis ceramics gives me more joy than any Poker Machine ever could. When I come across one of the more elusive Ellis pieces, my heart skips a beat, my palms start sweating and I have been known to jump for joy (particularly if the item is found in a box under a table at a garage sale! Although I wait until I’ve left the unsuspecting home before I start celebrating!) When this consignment of Ellis pieces came my way, I went out of my way to represent these pieces (my vendor now lives in Yeppoon, 600km North of Brisbane). Most of the pieces in this consignment have very likely never been seen before.
This stunning ceramic ashtray by celebrated handiwork firm, Ellis, has been around for more than a season and certainly more than a few issues of your favourite interior design magazine. If it’s still in vogue after 5 to 6 decades, it always will be. After mass-produced modern pieces have ended up as landfill, this vintage décor piece will be passed onto yet another generation. (The glaze was done by HAND- the mould was also created by HAND.) There’s no better way to invest in your home and help protect our planet for future generations. VALUING hand-crafted items is a small but IMPORTANT way we can all help to change our children’s future.