John Ferguson

My relationship with clay began at high school during the 1970′s and then further developed by working as a production thrower at the Old Ballarat Pottery, Victoria. In 1979 my ceramic career changed dramatically when I was awarded a traineeship from the Crafts Board of the Australia Council to work with Joan Campbell MBE at the Potter’s Workshop, Fremantle, Western Australia. My relationship and friendship with Joan has had a profound influence upon my life and work and with her passing in 1997 I went through a period of introspection that has become the catalyst in the exploration and development of my relationship with clay.

My forms are thrown from a singular piece of clay and whilst still green, an array of texturing techniques are applied. When dry, the forms variation of surface are highlighted when sprayed with terra sigillata (fine liquid clay slip) and burnished (polished) with a lamb wool cloth. After being bisque, the forms are tightly packed within sawdust filled saggars, sealed and slowly fired in a gas kiln for 10 hours. The sawdust smoulders with the carbon transferring, permanently impregnating the burnished surface and creating a seductive, enticing sheen with the occasional silver lustre. These works have become a vehicle to explore and develop texture, internal energies and the capturing and distorting of internal spaces.

All works these works are sawdust saggar fired. A saggar is a lidded cylinder which is thrown from a heavily grogged clay. Traditionally saggars were used to protect ware from the direct contact with the flame, thereby eliminating mottling, colour variation and any surface blemish that could occur during a solid fuel firing.

These balanced, harmonious and textured forms are a culmination of my life’s immersions.

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