Pottery art as big as an ox…

Ian McColl and Leanne Manniche have reinvented Taradale's old former roadhouse site, turning it into a new attraction for the local community.

For years the old Taradale roadhouse has sat vacant and gathering dust – but recently all that has changed.
The transformation of the old main drag roadhouse into a unique new ceramics business and gallery is turning heads.
Oxart Pottery is the creation of enterprising couple Ian McColl and Leanne Manniche who bought the old stone roadhouse site in the middle of last year and since then have set about dramatically reinventing the space and surrounds.
McColl has drawn on his extensive professional past as a commercial ceramicist and a pottery and art teacher to offer a range of pottery classes for kids and adults, including pottery making birthday packages – which already seem to be taking off with locals.
“People are wanting hands-on experiences,” observes McColl who honed his craft as a commercial ceramicist early on at Harcourt’s former Cannie Ridge Pottery, after unearthing a passion for the age-old craft as a teenager.
“I starting pottery at high school in year 10 and found it was something I was quite good at,” he says.
“I worked at Melbourne for a number of different studios and then did teaching.”
While Manniche is taking care of the business side of things, her own talents as a painter also come to the fore as she often provides the decorative flourish to many of McColl’s completed pieces – while also crafting some unique hand-built pieces of her own, including ceramic jewellery.
The couple currently reside in Bacchus March but are looking to purchase a home and shift permanently to Taradale in coming months.
Coming up on May 2 they will be hosting their debut Friends of Oxart Artists’ Fair offering visitors a chance to see first-hand what they’re doing and also meet a range of talented artists and potters who will also have work displayed.
“This will be a curated event with only seven to 10 artists and potters that we know, with pop-up stalls,” McColl says.
“This space was absolutely perfect for what we wanted.
“At the moment my studio is still in Bacchus Marsh but the aim is to also have the studio here as well as the gallery and workshop within the next 12 months.”