The Port Hacking Potters group began in the early sixties with 10 ladies after their pottery teacher, Dorothy Hope, moved to Port Macquarie. They held their first meeting in February 1962 and elected office bearers, drafted a constitution and invited Dorothy Hope to become the Patron of the group. Following is an abstract from the record of that historic meeting:
"The first meeting was held at 34 Caronia Ave, Cronulla, on Tuesday 6 February, 1962 at 1:00pm. Mrs Heather Beresford convened the meeting for the purpose of forming a pottery group. Ladies present were Mrs Earl, Schumack, Witherspoon, Newson, Barriskill, Ovad, Heather (Madeleine), Haywood, Walker (Betty) and Beresford (Heather).
It was suggested that the first duty was to elect a chairman. The officers selected for the ensuing year were President Mrs Walker, Secretary/Treasurer Mrs Bereford, Publicity Officer Mrs Heather. It was resolved that subscriptions would be 10/- (shillings) per annum, paid at the annual Meeting in February and 1/- per meeting irrespective of attendance. It was agreed to alternate places of meeting to enable members to seek new ideas from each other. Meetings would be held each month on the 1st Tuesday with the hours being 1pm to 3pm. It was unanimously agreed that they call themselves “Studio Potters”. It was also agreed that the group should consist of the original foundation members and any Studio and Advanced Technical college students who were interested in the advancement of all branches of pottery.
Mrs Haywood offered to open her property for the benefit of student potters to bring their equipment and work on pots etc every Tuesday from 11am till 3pm. Mrs Heather kindly offered to store and fire pots left at her home. It was decided that the Secretary was to write and ask Mrs Dorothy Hope if she would honour the group by accepting the nomination of Patroness.
The president read a draft of a suggested constitution. This was to be brought up at a future meeting. Future meeting places were arranged, the ladies proposed a vote of thanks to Mrs Beresford and congratulations were offered to the Office Bearers.
The Chairman thanked all for attending and at 1.30pm declared the meeting closed.”
Today the group continues using the same office bearer structure and a revised constitution. Members pay an annual fee and can become exhibiting members when they present their work to a selection committee.
Between 1962 and 1968, the group began a series of visits to potteries and workshops. In 1968, the group became a division of the Cronulla School of Arts. From that time on meetings have been held in the upstairs rooms on the first Wednesday of each month starting at 7.30pm. The Port Hacking Potters Group is eternally grateful to the Cronulla School of Arts for the use of the premises for meetings, storage of equipment including kilns and pottery wheels that can be hired by members. One of the potters regularly attends meetings of the School of Arts as a Port Hacking Potters Group representative.
The Port Hacking Potters Group has amassed a permanent collection of pots from well known potters such as Peter Travis, Peter Rushforth and Shiga Shigeo to name a few. The group has an extensive collection of fine pottery books and some pottery equipment, all housed in storage areas in the Cronulla School of Arts.
From the inception of the group, the members have held a National competition and exhibition of pottery works encouraging national and international potters to enter. Students also have a place in the competition. Part of the proceeds from these events have been donated to a local charity. Currently our charity of choice is the local Assistance Dogs Australia, for whom we also donate dog bowls made by members.
In the early 70’s, the Port Hacking Potters Group became affiliated with the Sutherland Shire Arts Council and in 1980 they began holding monthly exhibitions in a Council owned cottage in Belmont Street in Sutherland. In 1991, when the cottage was no longer available the exhibitions were moved to the old Baby Health Centre at Engadine owned by the Council. The exhibitions were held fortnightly and this ceased in 2000 when the cottage was resumed by the Council.
The Port Hacking Potters Group have held regular exhibitions at a variety of venues including schools, Sutherland Shire functions, Cronulla Spring Fair, Cronulla School of Arts Foyer and more recently have undertaken market stalls at Ramsgate and Bundeena.
Since 1997 the Port Hacking Potters Group has held various exhibitions at the Sutherland Shire Council’s Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Art Centre. These exhibitions have included celebrations for the opening of the Hazelhurst Centre and other special birthday celebrations. From 2002, the Port Hacking Potters Group has held the national exhibition and competition every two years at Hazelhurst. The potters contributed to the setting up of the, Hazelhurst Arts Centre pottery studio and as with other local art groups now have limited access for members to use the studio every Sunday afternoon for three hours at a nominal cost.
The Port Hacking Potters Group is one of the longest running pottery groups in New South Wales. Sadly in 2009, the Sutherland Shire Arts Council ceased to exist but they did give a grant of $1000 to the Port Hacking Potters Group to be donated to Gymea TAFE students over the next five years for an end of year prize. In addition to this the Group donates a prize and a free membership to be allocated to a Ceramics student at the discretion of the staff.
In 2010 the Port Hacking Potters Group developed a promotional flyer and a BLOG site to widen reach of the members of the group. It now also has a Facebook page and Instagram account.
A 50th Anniversary celebration lunch was held in Sutherland in 2012 which saw past members travelling across the State to attend. Enid Kirton, an early member, now Life Member, gave an interesting talk about the early days.
The Group continues to hold a National Competition and Exhibition every two years. Images from the 2016 exhibition can be seen under the tab on the home page. The next is due in October 2018.