After completing my Diploma in Art and design – Ceramics, at the Johannesburg Art College in 1979, I entered the business world and went into a creative ‘hibernation’ for more than 2 decades.
During a wonderful four year adventure while my husband was on assignment in Paris, I was at leisure to experience first hand the rich cultural heritage of Europe, and spent many happy days visiting galleries and attending part time pottery workshops. On my return to South Africa in 2005, I set up my own pottery-teaching studio at home.
Much has changed in pottery since my time at art college, particularly the availability of ready-made clay, glazes and stains. Gone are the days of a ceramic artist having to be a chemist and mixing up everything according to scientific formulas. I soon realised that I could devote more time to teaching and producing my own work.
I enjoy combining thrown work with hand made additions, or altering thrown ware. In complete contrast I am compelled to express myself in a more spontaneous sculptural way. I am an active committee member of Ceramics SA Association and co-ordinate the Teaching Studio’s meetings as well as assisting with workshops.
I recently participated in a joint ceramic exhibition ‘Elemental’ at ‘Upstairs at Bamboo Gallery’ in Melville.
To view Colleen's profile on the Ceramics Southern Africa site go to http://www.ceramicssa.org/Colleenlehmkuhl.html
Born in South Africa in 1948, I have been working in ceramics since 1970. I find it hard to remember when clay did not play a role in my life, even though I was in my early twenties when the bug first bit. I remember I had been making pots for about a year when I was offered my first exhibition at 'Potters', a local ceramics gallery. The exhibition, by all standards could best be called a moderate success, but it marked the beginning of my life in ceramics.
In the mid 70s I recall seeing images of crystalline glazed pieces and I set out to produce these myself. I was determined to use only local materials and I remember I struggled for over a year before I achieved the first results with crystals that were visible to the naked eye. I clearly recall the elation and I went on to produce many crystal glazed pots which I exhibited not only in South Africa, both in Johannesburg and Cape Town, but I was privileged to be asked to hold an exhibition at the South African Embassy in Japan.
Next on my agenda was porcelain, and my aim was to produce a translucent body from the materials available locally. This proved to be quite challenging and I worked for a number of years with a variety of bodies producing, less than the desired results.
Early in 2000 I was employed at the TWR (now University of Johannesburg) and I enrolled for my B Tech Ceramic Design. It was during this period that my experimentation with bone china began, and I produced a body of extreme whiteness with excellent translucency. My early work in bone china was pierced and sandblasted. On completion of my B Tech, for which I gained a distinction in ceramic practice, I started exploring and using soluble salts.
This still occupies me today and it seems that after all the experimentation I am finally making the work I want to be making. I find the soluble salts to be so different to the oxides with which one usually colours ceramics, not only their subtlety but also the way they gently permeate the surface of the work creating a watercolour effect. For this work I have garnered several accolades. Two of the most important of these being; in 2008 I won an award of merit at the Corobrick National Ceramics Biennale held in Johannesburg, South Africa, and I have had a piece of work selected for the 5th World Ceramic Biennale, in Korea 2009
In 2010 I was accepted as a member of the International Academy of Ceramics.
My commitment is to the pursuit of excellence in my work, and in this the importance of the journey exceeds that of the destination.
To view John's profile on the Ceramics Southern Africa site go to http://www.ceramicssa.org/Johnshirley.html