Canberra Potters’ Society (CPS) was formed in 1975 by thirteen potters who had recently graduated from the Canberra School of Art. Their plan was for the society to be a support base as they established themselves as professional or semi-professional potters/ceramic artists, and included them offering pottery classes to the general Canberra community.
The society based itself in Watson, where it rented space from the then Crafts Council of the ACT (now Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre). Its annual members’ exhibition was held in the Craft Council’s gallery there.
In 2001, following Craft ACT’s relocation to Canberra’s Civic Centre, the society successfully negotiated with the ACT Government to take over management of the whole premises at Watson, which had reverted to government ownership.
This change of circumstances enabled the society to go ahead in leaps and bounds. It opened a shop for the sale of members’ work and pottery supplies, and its gallery program expanded to include major touring ceramics exhibitions, as well as others, such as the ever-popular Bald Archy Prize.
2008 saw the opening of a brand new 150 square metre kiln shed (funded by the ACT Government), with upgraded power supply (funded by the society), which allowed the society to fire the work from a growing tuition and workshop program. The kiln shed now accommodates 6 electric kilns and 3 gas kilns, a large glazing area and a secure materials storage room.
Following the granting, in 2009, of ACT Key Arts Organisation status, with multi-year funding, five new studios and a residence for visiting artists were completed and officially opened, in September 2011, by the ACT Minister for the Arts. This development has enabled the society’s artist-in-residence program to grow internationally.
In 2014, funding was increased to allow the appointment of a full-time director to manage the Watson Arts Centre and Canberra Potters’ Society.