Michelle Legg obtained a National Diploma in Ceramic Design from the Technikon Witwatersrand, Jhb. in 1997 and a Bachelor of Technology in Ceramic Design, cum laude from the Technikon Witwatersrand, Jhb. in 1998. She held a successful Masters exhibition at the Zuva Gallery, Melrose Arch, Johannesburg. Her Masters of Technology in Ceramic Design was awarded from the University of Johannesburg in 2007.
In 1997 Legg was awarded the Tim Morris Scholarship for best studio work produced by a final year student at the Technikon Witwatersrand (TWR). In 1998 Legg received a Medal for Academic achievement: Bachelor of Technology Cum Laude, this resulted in her receiving a TRC (TWR) Research Grant in 1999. She was the Glazecor Award winner for Design at the 1995 A.P.S.A Regional Exhibition and received the Bronze award for the Vita Craft Now Millennium Awards Exhibition. In 2001 she was selected for a residency at the International Ceramic Institute, Skaelskor, Denmark. 2001.
Legg conducted research on “The design and construction of hand built ceramic products/artefacts with reference to indigenous rural ceramics incorporating appropriate surfaces with reference to European Lace”.
Legg’s recent work titled “WOMAN WARRIOR” honors woman warriors who have contributed in war throughout history. The aim of this work is to maintain an awareness of woman’s strength, independence and freedom. To serve as a reminder to all woman of the importance of the power they possess.
The strong forms are traditionally associated with women, fragility, the home, with food, beer, providing - in contradiction but balanced with the aggressive, menacing and, almost metallic structure of the spikes that surround the forms that ultimately serve to protect.
I have always been attracted to the full voluptuous forms of South African indigenous pottery. The surface of these smoke fired vessels reveal evidence of intense transformational processes of heat, fire and smoke. This fascination has inspired me to research other types of smoked fired surfaces. While the method of building the vessels is in complete contradiction to the firing process. I have developed a technique of coiling that is based on the traditional techniques of South African potters; this creates a rhythm which is calming and quite meditative.
To view Michelle's profile on the Ceramics Southern Africa site go to http://www.ceramicssa.org/Michellelegg.html
John Shirley will be presenting weekly workshops on Friday mornings at The Pottery Studio. For more on John's ceramic career and to find details on the courses he will be offering please check his website http://johnshirleyceramics.com
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.
At that time everything available locally was earthenware and I was seduced by the Anglo-Oriental stoneware glazes which were more often that not, reduced. I was determined to achieve these results in my electric kiln. I had never made a glaze in my life. Not only did I have to develop my own glazes, but I simultaneously started exploring local reduction. I remember a 'celadon' type glaze I produced using coal ash that I used for a number of years. I also developed saturated iron glazes that worked well in combination with the ash glaze.
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