Historical information

Ian SPRAGUE (1920 - 18 April 1994)
Born Geelong, Victoria

Ian Broun Sprague's initial training was in Architecture, completing a degree at the University of Melbourne in 1950. After a serious car accident in England, Sprague was encouraged to take up a craft to restore the strength in his arms. He studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London for three years, and spent two months at the David Leach Pottery in Devon, before returning to Australia in 1962.

In 1964 Ian Sprague established the Craft Centre in Toorak Road, South Yarra, and the Mungeribar Pottery in Upper Beaconsfield, with Robin Welch, Mungeribar being an Aboriginal word meaning 'red clay'. In 1981, he moved to Mooney-Mooney, NSW (Mungeribar was gutted by bushfires shortly after he left), and to Noosa in 1992. The Mungeribar Pottery mark is an impressed 'm', and Sprague's own mark is an impressed 'IS' with the S rendered in Morse code. Ian Sprague's Mungeribar apprentices were Grattan Burley, Victor Greenaway (1969–73), Christopher Sanders (1976-78}, Trevor Hanby (1978–80). In 1981, he moved to Mooney-Mooney, NSW , and Noosa in 1992. Greenaway's mark in his Mungeribar years was an impressed capital G. Grattan Burley (for six months),

The Craft Centre in South Yarra was owned and stocked entirely by Ian Sprague, and he travelled all over Australia in search of the best possible textiles, glassware, woodwork and jewellery, not just pottery. The opening exhibition showed the pottery of Robin Welch. Sprague sold the Centre in 1967, but soon started a campaign for a government funded centre, eventually established as the Meat Market Craft Centre in North Melbourne. In 1971 Sprague became president of the recently created Craft Association of Victoria. Dismayed by the quality of teaching in art schools and technical colleges, he ran many workshops around the country on the textural treatment of clay.

This work is part of the Jan Feder Memorial Ceramics Collection. Jan Feder was an alumna of the Gippsland Campus who studied ceramics on the campus. She passed away in the mid 1980s. Her student peers raised funds to buy ceramic works in her memory. They bought works from visiting lecturers who became leading ceramic artists around the world, as well as from many of the staff who taught there.

Physical description

Texture fire clay slab and partly glazed wall panel.

Ian Sprague produced his hand modeleed wall panels by cutting them from fireclay blocks, heating and scraping them, and applying bold simplified motifs. A strong solution of salted wated was poured onto the rugged clay surfaceswhich produced a warm toasted surface effect. The panels show a clear understanding of the modulation of two dimensional relief sculpture.

Inscriptions & markings

Artists stamp on lower RH corner