29 March 2005 - 14 May 2005
Established in 1946 the Pates Pottery story sheds light on post war Australian cultural, economic and social development. Stylistically Pates was internationalist rather than nationalist, works with Australiana themes rarely being produced. A number of its key model makers migrated to Australia in the 1950s from central Europe and its design team was strongly influenced by 1950s furnishing and colour trends. The appeal and sway of a post war American outlook and sensibility to Australian consumers is particularly demonstrated in the works with marlin and Mexican themes. The nature of production was significantly shaped by a sales tax regime that favoured the production of utility wares, which could still be highly decorated, over 'art wares' such as ornaments and vases.
The specific tastes of Australian consumers also shaped production with residents of New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia preferring more colourful works to the plainer works preferred in South Australia and Victoria. Pates concentrated on quantity rather than quality, one-off items rarely being produced. Occasionally one-off items were produced and in 1955 one-off Pates works won prizes at an international ceramics exposition in France. Pates Pottery was a Sydney based pottery that operated from 1946 to 1990 owned and managed by the Pates family. Its heyday was in the 1950s when it employed up to 95 people at any time. In the post war period around 40 Australian ceramics producers were rivals of Pates, with three other Sydney potteries being its main rivals. Crown Lynn was regarded as a competitor as Pates Pottery was at sometime marketed in New Zealand. Owners and workers alike were proud that Pates was a reputable, diversified and wholly owned Australian owned company. The Pates factory stopped operation in 1990 and was demolished a few years later. Moulds and records went to the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney to complement their Pates Pottery holdings and since then Pates Pottery has become increasingly collectible. Aucklander Benjamin Chow formed this collection when he lived in Melbourne in the 1990s. His collection of around 170 works was purchased mainly at markets with occasional pieces purchased in shops.
Objectspace's Vault Programme features distinctive works from private collections. Objectspace is keen to work with private collectors to enable them to share their collections and enthusiasms on a short term basis. Objectspace acknowledges the generosity of collector Benjamin Chow and the support of the Auckland War Memorial Museum.