About Laura

Born in South Africa, I migrated to Sydney, Australia in 2002. Throughout my many years of teaching English and Art at a variety of schools, followed by an extended business career, I consistently worked in the medium of clay, providing the space in my life for creativity and self-expression.

I have drawn on my native birthplace, Africa, to form a style which reflects the earth and its colours, patterns and textures. I build on the techniquesI learned there. I work largely with coarse sculptural clay bodies in terracottas and whites, hand building large coiled pieces - rustic, organic vessels, sometimes functional for growing shrubs and flowers, sometimes as purely textured decorative forms.

I am moved by shapes and colour, finding that I draw from my dance background to form or ‘grow’ a pot.  The urge to mould and build from a largely intuitive basis results in a pot that usually echoes my current feelings and sense of place and time. Each new project seems to become a pair or a trio of pots, expressing the make-up of my nuclear family, a couple and then a threesome, often emerging as male/female forms. Loving the sensual tactile nature of clay, I concentrate on its movement, ending with a texture suiting the form and size.  

The colours in my collection reveal my earthy nature and moody temperament, matching the hues of Africa, the reds, burnt umber and muddy copper tones of the soil. The whites reflect the peace I feel when creating pots, the clean lines and natural palette.The use of beadwork decoration on surfaces recalls the nature of the indigenous peoples of my roots. I use oxides extensively to match my chosen clay medium, creating matt finishes and patinas.I frequently smoke fire my vessels using sawdust, to create the asymmetrical deeper effects which this method provides. I love the smell that lingers on the pot after this firing, transporting me to the countryside where things grow and are ever changing.

These days I find myself making a subtle transition to a different look, evolving from the move to this adopted land, Australia, to styles ranging from softer, but still earthy shapes and colours, right through to stark white forms including shiny glazes, stoneware functional and decorative forms. The journey of adapting to a new culture, so mixed in its peoples, revitalised my work process, so vital in the continuing process of creating art. Japanese art of wabi sabi allows a flow towards perfectly imperfect creations, which are both exciting and magical. The dramatic experience of Raku firings, where the unexpected happens, also excites me and inspires me to experiment with glaze and more shiny surfaces.      

A pot teaches me humility – the control of clay is limited – ultimately, it takes on a life of its own, having its own spirit.

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© 2014 by Laura Jankelson