A Sense of Place
Like many potters, I first put my hands on clay at school, throwing some wobbly mugs and passing my pottery O-Level with a foot-high ceramic cat jug with bat ears and an extremely long tail. University and employment left little room for creativity and it was over a decade before I was able to take it up again, being fortunate in UK teachers such as Peter Beard, Ian Gregory and Jo Connell, and the Japanese artist Shozo Michikawa. In recent years I have spent time in a pottery in the Nagoya prefecture, Japan, and while on the Potters:Produce placement gaining skills and knowledge from Malcolm Greenwood, Isaac Patmore and Ben Richardson.
It took time for the essence of Tasmania to seep into my ceramics. Like most potters, I have enjoyed years of experimentation with different clays, building techniques and glazes. Although I love working on the wheel, the pieces I threw never really felt as if they showed a spirit that was truly mine, and after some time hand building using commercially available patterns I realised I needed to take things a step further by creating and carving my own templates. From there it was a small jump to using the endemic flora of Tasmania as a basis for my designs.
Tasmanian Flora-Unique Ceramic Surfaces
These designs needed a simpler approach than my previous work with its brighter colours and layered glazes. This time I turned to local materials; iron ore from the Savage River mine on the west coast, and wood ash glaze from trees on my own rural property. Each piece is hand finished to accentuate variation, to be imperfectly perfect. The way the ash glaze runs and interacts with the iron oxide in the kiln is unpredictable. Pieces can emerge with pale green, celadon-like surfaces or with a brilliant oily black accentuating every leaf and branch.
Where to from here? I would like to use more local materials and expand my repertoire to include larger and statement pieces, and different firing methods. Come back soon and see what comes next!