I was born in South Africa where I studied Fine Art at the Johannesburg Art Foundation. I feel very fortunate to have had a childhood in Africa, surrounded by the colour and rhythm of the African people. Though I no longer live there, the forms and textures of Africa are still very present in my work. For the last 18 years I have been working primarily in clay, using primitive methods of firing like sawdust and Naked Raku. Without using glaze I can maintain the tactile quality of the clay, something that is very important to me, because I want my work to invite touch as much as I want it to be visually pleasing. The raw texture of the clay and spontaneous markings created by the smoke firing during the Naked raku process, give my work a natural and almost stone-like quality.
I have always been drawn to stones....their ageless beauty, strength and quiet presence gives a sense of peace and balance.
I love the relationship that Naked Raku has with natural stone. I try to simulate the textures and patterns that you would find amongst the rocks in riverbeds. To achieve these varied textures, I use five different types of clay. Some pieces feel like tumbled stones on a beach while others feel like they have been carved out of sandstone.
The Process of Naked Raku
All my work is unglazed leaving the clay to its most natural state with only the markings from the smoke, left behind during firing. After I throw my vessels on a potter’s wheel, they are dried and burnished before they are bisque fired. The bisque-fired piece is coated with a resist slip to prevent the glaze layer from adhering permanently to the surface of the work.
The glazed piece is taken from the kiln when it is red-hot and placed in a chamber of combustible material like sawdust and other natural material. The heat of the pot ignites the sawdust and a lid is put on top of the chamber to seal off all oxygen and to form a reduction atmosphere.
The severe temperature change opens the glaze up in some areas to allow the carbon from the smoke to penetrate the clay. After smoking the piece for about 30 min it is removed and placed in cold water. This removes both the resist slip as well as the glaze leaving only the raw clay and the carbon marks left by the smoke.
This method of primitive firing offers spontaneous surface decoration and is particularly suited to the task of learning how to let go.
Primitively fired pottery is NOT food safe and is meant for decorative use only. The surface is porous and will not hold water.