This listing will be shared on our Instagram page in a few hours. www.instagram.com/invisedge
Part of a large consignment of vintage Ellis pottery! This is the last piece to be listed from this consignment. Virtually all these pieces have now sold and are rare designs / have glazes I’ve never seen before. These items belong to a family who were friends with the founders of Ellis Pottery so some were never sold in a retail situation.
This piece is being sold on behalf of a private vendor (we took possession of this full collection and have sold / are selling this collection from our depot in Morayfield, BRISBANE). Collection from NEW FARM, Brisbane is also possible.
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 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, employed students at the local RMIT.
- Their factory ceased to exist in 1972.
- The 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.
- Dasa and Milda Kratochvil regularly attended editorial meetings for the Australian-published newspaper, “Hlas Domova” (Voice of Home).
- Despite their now rather obscure history, Ellis Pottery has helped Australian handicrafts sit proudly alongside international offerings from the same era. eg. Bitossi
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 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 in the 1950’s 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 2 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 I actually started to get somewhere and local Council closed me down! (Which in hindsight they never should have done. I was not running a business from home, I was merely using my garage to store items for iNVISeDGE. I was too young and exhausted to fight them so I just closed iNVISeDGE at the time.) 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 the only thing Australia seems to do well at is destroying the environment in the pursuit of digging up 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 prosper again. God only knows how many small businesses in the last decade have largely “slogged their guts out” and got absolutely nowhere. Drowned by international CONGLOMERATES who exist because of the greed of their founders and their overseas share-holders, small business in Australia- small businesses like what Ellis became- have had little 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, anger and bitterness. I pray for this almost every day- I pray that the major reform Australia needs 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 in, the decor items we revered so much, all of 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 handcrafted ceramic ram; part of an extensive consignment of ELLIS pottery. The mother of the owner of this consignment (Marcela Cechova) was fast friends of Milda and Dasa Katochvil, founders of Ellis pottery. My vendor’s mother, Marcela was not a pottery collector, the Ellis pieces she acquired were gifted from the Ellis pottery founders and many are RARE. This one is rarer of the two ram designs that Ellis did.
I am no pottery-maker expert (I don’t make pottery- although I would love to!) but from the way I look at this one, it compromises of two parts- both parts may have come from a mould but the head section had to be hand-carved in sections plus the eyes are hand-inscribed too. I think this is why the head has various parallel lines etched out between the head and the body. This is to hide where the two pieces were joined together. This is how I see it formed- I could wrong here. I am only commenting on what I see when I look at it closely. Those lines in the neck area are definitely hand-etched and you can see many tooling marks in the head and horn area where different shapes have come into being. The head section looks hand-crafted in many areas whereas the other ram design Ellis did is just slip-cast- mould made. I believe this is why there are so few around in this particular design. The other ram design is a lot more common because this one required more time per piece (and we all know time is money and time is also precious for anyone in small business).
The thing I love most about this one is that even though there is no Ellis marking (none of these rams have a marking or sticker) it is obvious it’s ELLIS. That bronze glaze in the head area is distinctly Ellis- we see it in Ellis pieces all the time. (I love how this bronze metallic finish accentuates the curves in the head.) Plus that very rough texture all around the body is Ellis- I’ve seen it in many Ellis pieces. And finally the spotty type glaze in those colours around the feet is very distinctly Ellis. I’ve seen it used in various Ellis pieces including various Ellis animals.
I love the artistic merit of this design. The shape is quite complicated- it appears to be very difficult to make. This is one of Ellis’s RARER animals- miss it and you could be waiting years to get another. This one has been priced to give our buyer a very strong INVESTMENT. Ellis pieces have been going through the roof lately (that is IF you can find anything anymore!)
Ellis pottery is much-loved not just in Australia but internationally. The beautiful stylized shapes won hearts quickly back in the day, so much so that the Kratochvil’s initial setup in their garage 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 Pokie Machine ever could. When I come across one of the more elusive Ellis shapes, my heart skips a beat, my palms start sweating and I have been known to jump for joy (particularly if I find an Ellis piece in a box under a table at a garage sale! Although, I wait until I’ve left the unsuspecting home before I jump up & down and cheer!) 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).
(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.) Macela was a journalist and a regular contributor of “Hlas Domova” which was published for decades- the Kratochvils often attended editorial meetings.)
This stunning ceramic ram 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 will always be. After mass-produced modern pieces have ended up as landfill, this vintage décor piece (made in AUSTRALIA BY HAND) will be passed onto yet another generation. There’s no better way to invest in your home and help protect our planet for future generations. INVESTING in (and valuing) LOCALLY-MADE hand-crafted items is a small but important way we can all help change our children’s future.