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Photograph taken with the permission of the Light Factory Gallery Eltham and Mary-Lou Pittard©.

With the Nillumbik Artist’s Open Studios fast approaching in November, I want to introduce you to another participant, Mary-Lou Pittard. Her gallery is at the front of her owner builder mudbrick in Eltham.  Another muddie with loads and loads of character…sort of an amalgam of Eltham, Italian and French Farmhouse…wonderful.  A walk to the back of the garden and you’ll find the studio, the ‘engine room’ of her ceramics.  Shelf upon shelf of pots and vases and jugs and plates drying, awaiting hand painting.  Mary-Lou’s ceramics are highly decorated. Within the decoration, once again, there’s an echo of Italy, but always with elements of the Aussie bush front and centre. A luscious use of the Australian flora.

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Oh My God, is it that time of year again?  These Christmas trees will all be handpainted. Can you imagine the time involved?  But a Christmas tree festooned with dozens of these trees? Makes me do a mental audit of my chrissie decorations and dare I say it, my silly season planning.

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As I listened to Mary-Lou describe the process of turning a pug of clay and some glazes into a magnificent piece like this, I began to appreciate the time and skill devoted to her work.  A vase like this is put together with a slab construction, it’s then left to dry out completely before the painting can be done. Once glazed it’s ready for firing. Each stage requires hours and hours of work. Then tragedy can strike during the firing process and the piece can emerge from the kiln cracked and therefore unusable. It’s not unusual for three out of four vases of this sort to be relegated to the bin.  It makes this spectacular piece even more precious.

These photos (above and below) are included with the permission of the Light Factory Gallery Eltham, where they were  exhibited earlier this year.

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I was exhausted just hearing about the amount of work Mary-Lou manages each week.  Then she mentioned hers and partner Chris Pittard’s upcoming exhibition titled “Centre Piece” due to open at Eagles Nest Gallery at Aireys Inlet on October 29th between 2pm and 5pm. How does she do it? But then I’m so glad that she does. 

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Mary-Lou shares her studio with husband and 2010 Nillumbik Prize winner Chris Pittard.

For more information go to her website.

All work in this post is Mary-Lou Pittard©