​Pippin Drysdale (Carew-Reid)

1960 Collegian


My father and mother didn't know what to do with me so Dad decided that he'd teach me how to do secretarial work. I got into Stott's Business College, got pushed out of there after one semester for talking, coming late and eating in class, all the things we shouldn't do. So in desperation he got me into Leederville Tech, where I became the table tennis champion and I learnt 35 words per minute on a typewriter.

A friend of mine who was a hotshot secretary said "I know what, Pip, we'll take you down to Forrest Place and we'll give you a typing test. You only have to type 30 words a minute and we can get both ourselves a job in Canberra and get free passages to Canberra, stay a year and get free passages home."

We had a wonderful time. I was in the typing pool, typing out tables for the Bureau of Census and Statistics. I quite enjoyed that, I found it challenging.

I went to sea at 20 via India and the Suez Canal. I turned 21 at sea. My father was doing business in London so he came on a visit and he decided he didn't want me in a bad area and he didn't want me taking Tubes home late at night, it was dangerous. So he bought me a little mini and he paid for my rent in Mayfair, in Lees Place, and I actually had the apartment where the Profumo case started.

I never stuck a job for very long, I just was hopeless. When I came back to Australia, my parents had moved to Melbourne. That's when I met my husband who was extremely conservative. His name was Christopher, an old Gordonstoun boy. We did marry and the marriage was a disaster, but we stuck at it for five or six years.

Through those times I always loved to express myself through my hands. I always say that I had three big adventures. The first one was in Melbourne. I set up a thing called Pip's Flowers and we imported all this German, double-sided crepe paper, and of course, everything the Germans made was brilliant, and I made beautiful posies and rosebuds and flowers.

I left Christopher and I came back here and I started one of the most intense, organic, herb gardens called the Crumfrey Herb Garden here in this house (in Fremantle). I imported seeds from around the world and I grew about 300 varieties.

Finally, I decided to take up clay. I can't believe that I'm still sitting here today, committed to clay. I finally found something that I thought was going to be a life time thing. I think the thing about being a ceramic artist, a potter, is that you are constantly learning and are challenged by it so you never get bored. You're just constantly extending yourself in lots of ways.

I feel that this particular journey in clay has been the most phenomenal journey because every inch of the way there's been very different degrees of achievements and to be able to sit back now and have the privilege to know that people who don't even know you will invest a lot of money in your work and believe in you and your work.

Over the years MLC really has taken a great interest in my life and also collected a few beautiful pieces. I chuckle about that lovely piece where students have put in where they will be in 50 years' time. It will be my comeback.

On MLC: One day the boarders got me down, and to this day I curse them, on the grass at lunch time and plucked my eyebrows, and I've never had eyebrows since. And they shaved my legs. They were dreadful farmers' daughters.