I recently bought this lovely Mid Century pottery vase at the McKay’s Mart (second hand dealer) closing down sale. I bought it for its shape, colour and texture and because it feels so lovely to hold.
When I got it home I found a label on it with the maker’s name – Esther Bentata – so I started doing some online sleuthing.
Not easy to track down, but so far I’ve found out that she was an Australian artist born in Cairo, Egypt in 1913.
Here she is seen painting in her studio in North Glenelg, Adelaide. (Look at the pots on the left of the image that are in a very similar shape to mine.) This image is from 1966 when 33 South Australian migrant artists took part in a special exhibition of painting and sculpture during the Adelaide Festival of Arts. The exhibition was organised by the Department of Immigration and held in the 3rd floor gallery of Miller Anderson Ltd. ( I do remember that as a child several of the Adelaide department stores had art exhibitions in them from time to time.)
On the right is a painting by Esther from a separate auction catalogue (oil on board – which fits with how she is shown to be painting in the photo). I’ve emailed the auction house to see if they have any more information about the artist, but haven’t heard anything from them as yet.
I talk a lot about the memories we embed into the special objects we own. How a serving dish can hold the memory of a special grandmother’s hugs and a painting can hold the exuberance of an overseas adventure.
Now I have found an object (or perhaps it found me …..) that is asking me to unlock its meaning – meaning that was already embedded in it before we met. Perhaps this is something particular about it being a handmade object. Wanting to understand more about the human hands that made it.
I seem to have already exhausted what I can uncover online, so my next step will be doing library-based research on Australian Potters.
You’ve got to respect an object that gives you homework!