Edmund Barton flask
Bendigo Pottery, c. 1976
This reform flask is in the shape of Edmund Barton (1849–1920), Australia’s first Prime Minister (1901–03).
The original reform flasks were English salt-glazed stoneware flasks produced in the early 19th century shaped into the form of figures connected with the Reform Bill of 1832. Much was made of puns like ‘the spirit of reform’ at the time. Barton was known for enjoying a drink, so this flask has a kind of appropriateness to it.
Here, Frith has taken the reform flask form as inspiration for a series of political ceramics of some Australian Prime Ministers. The series included Barton, Alfred Deakin and Chris Watson.