John Dermer has perfected his pottery over 50 years.

Story Sue Wallace  Photo John Dermer  

Hold a piece of John Dermer’s acclaimed pottery in your hands and it’s the compelling colours, the complex finishes, intricate patterns and the sheer creativity that beguiles you. There’s a sense of place and connection about each unique work of art created by the Yackandandah potter, who has perfected his craft over half a century.

There’s always a story behind his work and he is happy to share it with those who visit his Kirby’s Flat Pottery studio, set amid beautiful Japanese-style gardens, with weeping cherries and maples, on 24 hectares in north-east Victoria. 

Fresh from his 40th sell-out exhibition, opened by Melbourne arts philanthropist Professor Emeritus Barbara van Ernst to celebrate his 50-year milestone, John says he didn’t wake up on his anniversary thinking, ‘Wow, 50 years’. “It was more a moment of quiet reflection and thankfulness to the potters who inspired me all those years ago, and I was humbled to see customers, one of whom was aged 88, drive long distances to celebrate with me,” he says.

“I just wanted the exhibition, which showcased newly created salt-glazed pots as well as a dinner set made from porcelain clay I stored in a pit for more than four decades, to reflect my love for what I do.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #119

Outback Magazine: June/July 2018