John Dermer



Artist Statement & CV

Being a full time potter is not an easy or idyllic existence. The hurdles have increased in height and number over the years as costs increase and fitness levels decrease!

Initially it was about making items that people could use and enjoy - a bowl to serve with, or bowls to eat from. It was about being part of the enjoyment of food enable people to use an object that had been created with care, consideration, skill and passion. It is working with the head, heart and hands. In Japan it is called Mingei, the "art of the people".

Another equally important driving force behind my work is the constant striving for, and anticipation of, that "magic pot". It emerges in all its mystery and glory when you open the kiln. It is the pot with a timelessness and spirit that takes your breath away. It is the result of years of experience, research, experimentation, mistakes and some times tiny miracles. They are rare gems which make them all the more special. They help to explain the addictiveness of the process and the search. Failures become an opportunity to learn and, after more than 45 years of salt glazing, it has been the kiln disasters that have helped lead to some most wonderful developments in surfaces. These unique and rare surfaces are an extraordinary evolution, from a process notoriously limiting in outcome due to the severity of the kiln atmosphere.

I have been inspired and encouraged by potters such as Buzz Hughan, Reg Preston and Peter Rushforth - potters who believed in the honesty of the process, integrity towards the materials and the importance of learning timeless skills. They were proud to be part of a conversation that has existed for thousands of years.

It brings me peace of mind to create a bowl or a cooking pot that can be used confidently every day, or an "exhibition" piece that will bring joy to the viewer. There is a strong sense of fulfillment in the sharing. I will continue to accept the challenges and hopefully I will remain aware of the evolution that takes place in my work as I continue to strive for that " magic pot ".


Preston Institute of Technology 1967-1968
RMIT 1969-1970
Diploma of Education, Melbourne State College, 1973.
Worked with Michael Leach in the UK, 1971.
Artist-in-Residence, Wedgwood in the UK, 1971-1972.
First pottery set up in Rosanna 1967.
Tableware production and salt glaze, 1967 to present
Built house and established studio at Yackandandah 1974.
Annual Studio Exhibitions, end of November since 1978 and Easter time since 1979.
Working with Terra Sigillata since 1987, initially for Major commission in the Prime Minister’s Room and the Cabinet Room area in the New Parliament house Canberra.

First solo exhibition 1971 Beaumaris, Victoria.
Numerous solo and group exhibitions, including many overseas.

Major awards, Australia and overseas including Salzbrand Keramic Koblenz Germany 2006.

Public and private collections, Australia and International, including Parliament House Canberra, Federal High Court Building, Westerwald Museum Germany, Wedgwood museums in UK and USA, Regional and National Galleries throughout Australia.

Current Production
Working in salt glaze, terra sigillata and production tableware using porcelain clay.
Kilns used are gas and wood fired, both brick and ceramic fibre construction.