IT WAS THAT well known request from Oliver Twist, “Please sir, can I have some more?” that gave Norman Dobson the idea for a Maleny Community Centre fundraiser. Norm is a retired art teacher and self-taught potter who, along with a small team, has come up with a novel evening of light entertainment, a nourishing meal and a takeaway memento.
A couple of years ago Pam Walker of the Community Centre committee asked Norm if he would support the fundraising campaign to renovate the Centre. Not wanting to simply sign a cheque he thought about what he could do personally for the building he regards as “the heart of our
town”. With some like-minded people he came up with the idea of staging an evening of Bowl, Feast and Frolic in which a personal food bowl is the central feature.
Norm takes up his own story: “The people come to the hall. It will be an event based on Oliver Twist holding out his food bowl to ask for more. The Maleny Players will stage songs from Oliver the musical like Food Glorious Food and there will be some form of rollicking frolic later in the
evening. The caterer, Sacred Chef, will produce a three course meal – canapés, a one bowl main dish and dessert.”
Norm’s astonishing input is to make more than 250 individually designed and glazed bowls, all separately numbered on the base. His large kiln behind his home in Maleny has been working overtime during the past year as he has thrown, fired and glazed each of these 250 stoneware bowls.
“After the canapés, the bowls will be unveiled”, says Norm, “and people will select one from the
250 and collect their food. The menu takes into account gluten free, vegetarian and other
specialised food requirements.
“At the end of the night you take your bowl home and its number will be recorded against
Norm’s long term focus on the ‘bowl project’ is typical of a man who at 74 still admits to a passionate temperament. While a young art teacher in Wollongong Norm discovered the joys of pottery.
“I tend to become enthusiastic then passionate about things, and I began my long romance with clay in 1964 in Wollongong. I built myself a kiln, then a kick wheel and I put it into our lounge room. ”
Norm spent 18 years teaching in Canberra and his passion for pottery continued. He was a teacher in the day time, fitting in his pottery at nights and weekends. He built a huge pottery kiln and exhibited his creations in a number of ACT galleries.
“I was a deputy principal of a high school in Canberra, but I developed hearing loss so they
retired me. Robin and I used to come up to Flaxton to see Robin’s aunt in the 1980s and during one visit we saw a pottery and tea rooms in Montville, next to Misty’s. We bought it and turned it into the Eureka Pottery and Craft Gallery. It’s not there any more.
“I have enjoyed building on my knowledge and techniques of pottery, but I’ve never had any formal pottery lessons. I think I’m a specialist in firing pots. I think the throwing is easy, but it’s getting the whole thing fired and to a stage where you’re happy with the whole presentation; that is a challenge”.
The MCU’s ‘Bowl, Feast and Frolic event will be staged on May 15 at 6pm at the Maleny Community Centre and the fundraiser cost will cost $75 a ticket. The aim is to sell 200 tickets in advance, and if guests want to buy an extra bowl, Norm says there will be a limited number for sale at $50 each on the night.
If you want a beautifully-designed stoneware bowl as a memento of your support for the next stage of renovations for the Maleny Community Centre, book one of the 200 seats at Bowl, Feast and Frolic.
Tickets from the Maleny Bowerbird, Maple St, Maleny.