I’m going to kick-start the text aspect of this blog with some of my favourite quotes about John Perceval and his angels.

Elise Routledge
Curator, SAM


To revert briefly to the Angels; I think we must recognize them as being of crucial significance. In the first place they launched Perceval into some degree of prominence which was important, not only financially but also psychologically, in giving him a prestige recognition which he rightly and strongly felt his due. Secondly, the Angels are, in fact, John Perceval telling us about himself: he is his own angel – and what an angel too ! – a puckish angel, a mischievous angel, a trouble-making angel, an angel who plays the harp with an angelic leer, a perverse angel, a clown angel.

John Reed, ‘John Perceval’, Art and Australia, Vol. 5 No. 1, June 1967, p.361


… There is much to be said about the development of the ‘Angels’ in relation to the glaze, sang de beouf. The discovery (his) of how to produce it came first and the excitement about that (which had been an ambition even in my father’s early days) gave him the incentive to think of something as he said more ‘exalted’ than purely utilitarian pottery to deserve this remarkable effect. Several influences combined led to the inspirations to make ‘Angels’.

 Mary Nolan, letter to John Stringer, 2005


I think Perceval is a sort of child. He had his children when he was young, so they – he and Mary – were together when they were sixteen, which was unusual for those days. He was a sort of naughty boy. At a party, he’d come up and tip sherry on your head.

Philip Jones interviewed by Pamela Irving, The Angel Imagery of Arthur Boyd, John Perceval and Mirka Mora, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts by research, Melbourne College of Advanced Education, 1989, p.189


It can be said that John Perceval’s achievement and the quality of his “Sang-de-boeuf” will not only be greatly admired but be the envy of ceramists the world over.

Beyond all those things, works of art communicate according to the susceptibilities of the viewer. For myself, I find in these angels a profound reminder of the tragic indifference of the modern world for the tender qualities of human kind.

David Boyd, John Perceval’s Angels, (exh. cat.) Museum of Modern Art of Australia, 1958


John Perceval goes abroad not only with our very best wishes but also with our sure knowledge that he is taking with him, in his ceramics and in his paintings, the best possible proof of our growing maturity as a nation which is able to make an important contribution to the art of the whole world.

John Reed, The Angels of John Perceval, (exh. cat.) Museum of Modern Art, 1959