8 - 27 November 2012
about the exhibition
Les Blakebrough is one of Australia’s most eminent ceramic artists. In a career spanning more than fifty years, his body of work has ranged from beautiful functional ware to delicate exhibition pieces of ethereal beauty that are sometimes etched to emphasise the translucency of ‘Southern Ice’ porcelain. This unglazed porcelain reflects the cool, almost blue, qualities of glacial light, and was developed by the artist over five years of extensive research. This exhibition continues Les’ investigation into the aesthetic and physical qualities of this porcelain and is inspired by the places in which he has lived and worked. The giant kelp forests of Fortescue Bay, the contour lines that map walking in Tasmania and more recently, the escarpment that dominates his current landscape on the coast of NSW are all manifested in these pieces. Les continues to explore the effect of colours on his porcelain by brushing or trailing coloured glazes upon the surface of the vessel to produce varying effects. In the ‘About Fred’ series, Les trails coloured glazes across the porcelain in a homage to Fred Williams’Mittagong tree paintings of the 1950’s. Concurrently Les was working as a young apprentice at Sturt Pottery in Mittagong when the pictures were being painted. All of Les’ works have a luminous quality, revealing an extraordinary precision of technique and an uncompromising insistence on the harmonious unity of form, colour and surface treatment.
Emigrating from England as a young man, Les was apprenticed to Ivan McMeekin at Sturt Pottery in the 1950s, and then studied in Japan with Kawai. He was appointed Director of Sturt Craft Centre in 1964 and was a foundation member of the Crafts Board of the Australia Council. In 1973, he took up the position of Senior Lecturer, later becoming Professor, of the ceramics department at the Tasmanian School of Art and, in 1990, he established the Ceramic Research Unit there. Les undertook further research in 1993 at major porcelain factories in Scandinavia and the UK. His work is represented in major collections in both Australia and overseas including the National Gallery of Australia, Commonwealth Collection (London), Imperial Palace Collection (Tokyo), International Museum of Ceramic Art (Italy), National Museum of Applied Art (Norway) and the Royal Collection of the Queen of Denmark. In 2005, Les was the first Australian artist selected as a ‘living treasure’ for the touring exhibition series “Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft”. He has received numerous awards including a gold medal at the International Exhibition of Ceramic Art, Faenza, Italy. Beaver Galleries has been exhibiting Les’ porcelain since 1996.