The Brickworks History

The Castlemaine Brick Co, built on Meredith Reef where gold was extracted from 1861, began operating at Scott’s Gully in 1937. Jack Harrison purchased the brickworks in the late 1940s, renamed it Castlemaine Ceramic Industries, and manufactured red and clinker bricks until the 1960s. When a few artists, in 1963, constructed a small kiln there to fire their first pottery in Castlemaine, no one imagined the importance of ‘The Bricky’ in the arts.

In 1972, George Butcher and John Gowty bought the old brickworks on six acres of harsh land covered in gorse and bricks. John, a keen gardener and carpenter, moved into makeshift quarters in 1973, followed by George, an art teacher and potter, in late 1974. A growing community of artists helped clean out the kilns, beautify the surrounds, and in 1975 George ran film nights in an arched-ceiling kiln. From 1980, George and John built their homes, joined by a common wall, on the footprint of the old factory, with second-hand materials and many working bees

George opened his home to Castlemaine Artists Co-Op and Inc members, supporters and friends, for exhibitions, meetings, talks, fundraisers and parties from 1981 to 2019. The Co-Op’s first exhibition at the Brickworks, in December 1981, showcased the high quality work of 30 local artists. In 1982, they exhibited there again in conjunction with the Castlemaine State Festival.

In the late 80s and early 90s, Castlemaine Artist Inc held monthly meetings with guest speakers at the Brickworks. In 2013, George recommenced group art exhibitions as part of the State Festival’s ‘Open Studios’. The Bricky Show continued biannually until 2019.

George Butcher (1942-2020)
John Gowty (1946-1998)

The Brickworks – Castlemaine Artist Co-Operative Exhibition Poster, 1983.

About Katherine Seppings

Artist, writer, photographer, historian, is currently writing the History of Castlemaine Arts (1960-90).

The Brickworks – Castlemaine Artist Co-Operative Exhibition Poster, 1982.

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