28 September - 16 October 2006
about the exhibition
In a career spanning more than fifty years, Les Blakebrough’s body of work ranges from beautiful functional ware to delicate exhibition pieces of ethereal beauty that are etched to emphasise the translucency and fragility of ‘Southern Ice’ porcelain. This unglazed porcelain reflects the cool – almost blue – qualities of glacial light, and was developed by the artist after extensive research to find a clay body that would combine the plasticity of porcelain with the translucent character and whiteness of bone china. 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 decoration. “The surface treatment reflects my world, work or play. Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are close by, and indirectly influence my work. The surface I call ‘Southern Ice’ is my way of recording the terrible beauty of Antarctica. ‘In the long grass with Claudia Rose’, by contrast, is about playing in long grass with my two-year old granddaughter. ‘Derwent river’ is very real for me because I live right next to it, and watch its changing moods and surface shape constantly – it is endlessly fascinating. So it goes. I live in a paradise of visual images, but life is short … never enough time.”
Les Blakebrough emigrated from England as a young man. Apprenticed to significant Australian ceramicist Ivan McMeekin at Sturt Pottery in the 1950s, he also studied in Japan. 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 the head of the ceramics department, at the Tasmanian School of Art, University of Tasmania and, in 1990, he established the Ceramic Research Unit within the University. Les undertook further research in 1993 at major porcelain factories in Scandinavia and the UK.. Les has had many solo and group exhibitions. His work is represented in major collections including the National Gallery of Australia; Commonwealth Collection, London; Imperial Palace Collection, Tokyo; International Museum of Ceramic Art, Faenza, Italy; Victorian State Craft Collection, Melbourne; National Bank of Austria, Vienna; National Museum of Applied Art, Oslo, Norway; Flinders University; University of Queensland; University of Tasmania and the Royal Collection of the Queen of Denmark. In 2005 Les was one of three artists selected for the exhibition series “Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft” presented by Object Gallery in collaboration with Craft Australia. Les Blakebrough has received numerous awards including a gold medal at the International Exhibition of Ceramic Art, Faenza, Italy.