Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.
Henry David Thoreau
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 3 July 1964 in Delmas, Mpumalanga, and the second of 4 children. Nic’s father was Zulu and his mother is Swazi. The family moved a lot in his childhood and as a result Nic is fluent in 9 different languages. Nic is married with 3 children, aged 16, 18 and 22 years old and lives in Mamelodi. Their family has recently welcomed the addition of a baby Grandson, who Nic dotes on!
Since completing school, Nic has been involved in the Ceramics world and learnt to throw more than 28 years ago. He loves throwing and has never considered changing careers and as a result has mastered the art of throwing on the wheel.
Nic has freelanced at many different ceramic studios and factories over his long career and has been influenced to some degree by all the artists he has worked with.
His first job with ceramic artist Helen Stein in Springs sparked off his life long passion for the wheel and he has dedicated most of his career to perfecting this discipline. Nic has become highly adaptable and flexible in his approach and is able to throw using any clay, any shape and almost any size, depending on the kiln available.
Major influences over the past 5 years have been Anthony Shapiro and Loren Kaplan of ‘Loren and Ant Ceramic Designs’, where Nic continues to throw and collaborate with Loren on new designs in her range. Nic enjoys the fact that both Anthony and Loren are very committed to high quality end products, from the making to the designing and surface treatments on all their work. This approach appeals to Nic’s sense of commitment to good design and form being of utmost importance in his work. It is taken for granted at this stage that all his work is made technically perfect and he is able to concentrate his efforts on the form and embellishment of the work.
Nic admires the work of Kenyan Ceramic artist Magdalene Odondo, now living in the UK. The forms and the surface treatments she uses are very organic and there is strong emphasis on perfect proportion. The one word that can be used to describe all of Magdalene’s pots is ‘Beautiful’. Being a man of few words, Nic believes that his pots should speak for themselves and he does not like to take too much time deliberating on why and how he makes certain decisions regarding the form and surface treatment on his pots. He would like to explore surface treatments that would enhance his forms such as burnishing, terra sigilata, smoke and saggar firings. Having worked in all the clay types his current preference for his own range of work is earthenware.
Nic has excellent inter personal skills and enjoys teaching both skilled and unskilled students. He has a wonderful sense of humour and is open to new ideas and suggestions. He is extremely reliable and dedicated, a true professional.
During 2007 Nic started producing work under his own name and is an active member of Ceramics SA Association. He had work accepted for the Regional Exhibition at Decorex in Aug 2007 and the Christmas Exhibition at The Association of Arts Pretoria. He has recently exhibited at a joint ceramics exhibition ‘Elemental’ at ‘Upstairs at Bamboo Gallery’ in Melville.
Nic was invited to a solo exhibition of his exquisite clay oxen at the Galerie Chanton of the Association of Arts Pretoria in April 2008, where his work was well received by the press and public and sold well.
To view Nic's profile on the Ceramics Southern Africa site go to http://www.ceramicssa.org/Nicsithole.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/index.php
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
Contact Michelle Legg
www.michellelegg.net to view Michelle's recent work
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
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”.
Michelle Legg has participated in numerous exhibitions in South Africa from 1992 to date.
She has taught part time at the Technikon Witwatersrand (now University of Johannesburg) from 1997 to the present.
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
Charlotte was born in Kenya in 1969 and has lived in Africa pretty much ever since. She loves the richness of cultures; the strength of the people and animals; the soaring colours of the continent and strives to bring out these elements in her work.
Charlotte has done several courses with Michelle Legg, specialising in African techniques with clay. In strong contrast, she completed a sculpture course with Simon Cooley in Wales in 2006.
Charlotte currently serves on the Ceramics Southern Africa committee and is a regular contributor to Ceramics Quarterly.
In this exhibition, I am exploring one of Africa’ great loves – and certainly mine – the Nguni. I am taking elements – the skin, the horns – and incorporating them into unexpected, everyday shapes. I have also found the connection to Egypt through the goddess Hathor of great interest. She is represented as the World Cow typifying fertility, the feminine principle of nature. As goddess of maternity she is given the head of a vulture surmounted by the moon crescent or horns and the solar disk.
By using burnishing as a finish, I hope to recreate the look and feel of the hids and the glow of the sun, making pieces that the observer wants to touch, and thereby interact with the concept.
A playful element for me is the little Ngoos – a caricature that I hope people will find as fun as I have had in creating them
To view Charlotte's profile on the Ceramics Southern Africa site go to http://www.ceramicssa.org/Charlottemiddleton.html