Hatton Beck

See Hatton Becks ceramic paintings
See Hatton Becks ceramic works


Cermaic painting by Hatton Beck

Henry Hatton Beck was born was on the 18th of May, 1901 in Cassilis, a former gold mining town near Omeo in eastern Victoria. His father, Henry Nicholas Beck was a schoolmaster there. In 1906 the Becks moved from Cassilis. They lived in different parts of regional Victoria, including at Mollongghip near Ballarat.

Hatton's birth-place of Cassilis near Omeo in eastern Victoria

At Mollongghip, Hatton observed different types of clays in nearby creeks. He mixed white and red clays to make marbles look like agates, and modelled animals and fired them in fires. These were Hatton’s first pottery-making experiences. His artistic ability was encouraged by his father who was involved with the Gould League of Bird Lovers. Hatton drew and painted birds for the Gould League.

Hatton had an uncle who owned a pottery in Bairnsdale, making terracotta tiles and flowerpots. There, Hatton observed his uncle using his wood-fired kiln and throwing pots. He showed Hatton how to make marbles, which he hardened in the ash pit of his kiln.

Hatton at age 15

In 1918, the Beck family family moved to Webster Street, Oakleigh, where Hatton continued to develop his interest in modelling and pottery. In the early 1920s he lived in North Queensland. This was on his doctor’s advice because of a scar on his lung caused by the influenza he had as an infant. He worked as an accountant on the Atherton tablelands and in sugar mills in the Cairn's area.

Hatton at Tarzali, North Queensland in the 1920s

After returning to Oakleigh, Hatton established a studio there. By this time, he had developed a solid knowledge of kilns and the processes involved in firing pottery. Around 1926 Hatton became aware of potter, Merric Boyd who lived nearby in Wahroongaa Crescent, Murrumbeena, and visited him there. The two men got on well and worked together at Merrics's studio at Open Country, the name of his home. Merric had come to Murrumbeena in 1913 and in 1915 had married artist and poet, Doris Gough.

In 1926 Merric's pottery was destroyed by fire. Merric fired his ceramics at Hatton's Oakleigh studio until his new pottery was built a year later. Hatton also knew William Ricketts and assisted him with his kiln at his pottery in the Dandenong Ranges.

Bust of Merric Boyd by Hatton Beck c. 1940 *

Drawing of Hatton Beck by Merric Boyd 1946

In the 1930’s Hatton worked for commercial potteries including for Cooper and Cook, and Fowlers, where he became head of their art department. In 1939 he married Merric’s daughter, Lucy, at Open Country. They remained there and lived in what had been Merric's new studio built after the 1926 fire. This was located behind the main house.

In 1939 Hatton established the Altimera Pottery at 500 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena making utilitarian ceramics - a government requirement because of War. In 1943 he sold the pottery to his brother-in-law Arthur Boyd, John Perceval and Peter Herbst who then established the Arthur Merric Boyd (AMB) Pottery. Hatton then joined the air force, and saw out his service stationed in Melbourne.

In 1947 Hatton and Lucy and their two sons, Laurence (1940) and Robert (1942) moved to Brisbane. Hatton was employed as a pottery teacher at Brisbane Central Technical College. In his spare time he began making ceramic paintings - painting pictures in glaze. These often featured landscapes with a great variety of colour and texture. His rocky creek paintings were particularly effective.

North Queensland landscape painted by Hatton Beck 1960

Hattons & Lucy traveling in
North Queensland in 1959

Hatton and Lucy lived in Brisbane for thirteen years. During this time their third son, Paul (1948) was born. Merric Boyd died in 1959 and Doris Boyd in 1960. Following Doris' death, Hatton and Lucy returned to Melbourne and lived at Open Country. They established a pottery school there and as well as making, exhibiting and selling their own pottery.

Hatton & Lucy at Open Country Murrumbeena c. 1962

A section of Hatton
& Lucy's first exhibition at Open Country Murrumbeena c. 1962

In 1963 the Becks moved to Boronia. They lived there for a short time before traveling to London. Hatton, Lucy and Robert established a pottery at Wandsworth Common. They made lamp bases, mugs, decorated plates, bowls and other utilitarian wares. Hatton also taught pottery during this time.

Hatton and Lucy's pottery and shop at Wandsworth Common, London c. 1968

In 1970 Hatton and Lucy returned to Melbourne. They lived at Surf Avenue, Beaumaris where they continued working in ceramics. By this time, Lucy had also become interested in ceramic paintings. Hatton and Lucy worked both collaboratively and seperately. It was during their time at Beaumaris that they created many of their most significant ceramic tiles.

Hatton and Lucy lived in a number of houses around bayside Melbourne and on the Mornington Peninsula. Their last working period was at Bayswater. There, Hatton to worked into his late eighties, experimenting with materials such as scoria, and with coloured glass to achieve a glistening water effect for his streams and waterfalls.

The last house the Becks lived in was at Parkdale. Hatton died on the 24th of November, 1994 in an aged care facility at Carrum. The quality, originality and diversity of his ceramics stands as a testimant to his knowledge and skill in working with both clay and glaze. His knowledge of glaze chemistry and kilns was, and remains, unsurpassed.

Ceramic painting by Hatton Beck c.1963

Hatton and Lucy held many exhibitions throughout Australia and their work is represented in many public collections including :
National Gallery of Victoria;
Newcastle Art Gallery; Shepparton Art Gallery; University of Newcastle

Hatton Beck His Life In Art
Hatton Beck's Ceramic Paintings

Hatton produced his ceramic paintings between 1969 and 1990. He would begin by drawing a design onto a tile in pencil before painting it, applying the glaze with a knife or brush. Sometimes he would sponge the glaze on and occasionally he would apply it with his fingers.

Ceramic painting by Lucy Boyd-Beck on tile handmade by Hatton Beck c. 1973

In his early days Hatton's tiles were home-made. These were very effective, but he found a smoother surface to work on using shelves made for kilns. Hatton used a great variety of glazes on his tiles. He often used iron, copper and cobalt, along with dolomite and volcanic glaze, and clear glaze. The affect of water was generally achieved using clear glaze with a little colour added. Later he used glass such as green glass for this. He used scoria to achieve a true rock effect. He would sometimes mix in oxides such as tin oxide for highlighs, and use copper and manganese for shading. In short, he would use anything that he could find to achieve an effect that he wanted. He would fire and re-fire a tile and with each firing, add more glaze to highlight aspects of his painting. The number of firings varied from tile to tile because of the individual nature of each work.



Ceramic Paintings by Hatton Beck



Ceramic painting

Ceramic painting


Creek at Walhalla, Ceramic painting, 25x30cm c.1974

The river gaints, Ceramic painting, 36x41cm

Ceramic painting, 35x40cm

Ceramic painting

Ceramic painting


Ceramic painting

Ceramic painting

Ceramic painting


Great trees little creek, Ceramic painting, 36x41cm

Russe rocks and meandering stream, Ceramic
painting, 30x36cm c. 1977



Ceramic painting

Ceramic painting

Log over pool Ceramic painting, 25x35cm

Ceramic painting, 17.5x23cm


Wattle Tree Creek

Ceramic painting 40.5cmx35.5cm, 1982


Cascade In Wilderness Country

Ceramic painting 34x29.5cm, 1982


The old oak tree ceramic painting,


Two brown trees in bush,


Ceramic painting, 41x25cm

Tree in ruggered bush, 18x34cm


Ceramic painting

Ceramic painting, 16x12cm

Ceramic Paintings from Hatton Beck's Latter Years


Ceramic painting, 40x35.5cm

Ceramic painting, 35x30cm




Other Ceramic Creations by Hatton Beck

Hatton Beck had gained an enormous amount of experience in clay and glaze by the time he began the making his remarkable ceramic paintings. These are some of the ceramic works that he made throughout this long life in art.

Ceramic sculptured candle holder c. 1970 *

Ceramic goat sculpture c. 1980 *

Ceramic sculptured candle holder c. 1970 *

Ceramic buttons & pendant c.1985 *


Ceramic sculpture c. 1980 *

Ceramic decanter & beakers c. 1963 *


Ceramic Goat sculpture by Hatton Beck. *

Small pot with lid c.1963 *

Fowlers teapot hand painted by Hatton Beck c. 1935 *

Decanters & Pot c. 1963 & c. 1970 *


Decanter H. 23cm

Bas Relief of St Paticks Cathedral, Melbourne
c. 1935*



Jug designed by Hatton Beck at Fowlers c .1935 *
                      Lucy, Hatton Beck, Insiced Base                  Vase   9.5cm x 10cm


Vase c.1935
                                                                                        Vase c. 1935                                                    Vase c. 1935


Vase c. 1935
                                                                          Art Deco Blue Tea Set c. 1930                                  Lamp Base 15 cm x 19.5 cm


Links to .....

Read Hatton Beck's reminisces of early kiln building in Victoria

A Hatton Beck sketch for kiln building

Hatton with ceramic
sculpture at Beaumaris c. 1970

Hatton throwing at Brisbane
Central Technical Collage c. 1956


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* * * Other Web Sites By Us * * *
* * * * * * *

The Life & Art of Friedl Gardner

Merric Boyd His Life & His Art

Doris Boyd A Life in Family and Art

Jean Langley Painter and Writer

Lucy Boyd Beck A Life In Family and Art

This website was conceived by Colin Smith, written by Robert Beck and developed by Paul Caine and Colin Smith in
partnership and with permission from Lucy Boyd Beck.


All photographs have been reproduced with permission of copyright owner.
* Photographed by Paul Caine.