Jo-Ann MacLaurin – JM Pottery
Work rooted in the utilitarian pottery tradition where functional concerns are paramount
I found clay early in life. It’s been the one constant carried with me throughout my years. Although largely self-taught, I have attended formal classes with various ceramic artist as well as institutions, including completing a year at Sheridan in the ceramic arts program in 2001-2002.
Clay is a medium with endless possibilities. As such, I continuously experiment with all types of methods and materials. At present my work deals with simplicity of form, objects with a strong sense of function, yet creative and playful. I favour pieces that are glazed simply with minimal or natural decoration such as agate ware.
The work I create is rooted in the utilitarian pottery tradition where functional concerns are paramount; however, aesthetic considerations and functional concerns should share equal importance. Achieving a good balance between the two is my challenge.
The emotions I feel while creating interacts with the forms in interesting and visually exciting ways. My aboriginal heritage teaches that our emotions can be captured and held on to a piece while working and then transferred to its new owner. For me this means my emotions are of strong importance. Transmitting positivity through my work is simple for me. While the pieces are inspired by a variety of catalysts, the joy, peace and passion I feel when I’m working with clay are my strongest influences.
The environment is another source of inspiration. At times something as simple as a leaf found on the ground may inspire the need for me to create. It is my goal to draw attention to the amazing shapes, colour combinations and surfaces I observe and preserve in some way the visual and emotional experience of the naturally occurring beauty.
Beyond life and earth forms, I look also to contemporary and historical art and craft across cultures. These influences are not a copy of the original but the inspiration invoked and conveyed in a simple and somewhat abstract way. I never know what direction my heart will take me when I walk into the studio.
All of my pieces are one-of-a-kind sometimes differing in a small subtle way and other times in a dramatic and profound way as I’m always experimenting.
My material of choice is stoneware for it strength and durability. It’s a forgiving clay that can be worked and altered with little chance of cracking or breakage which makes it perfect for functional use. Coloured slip may be rubbed into an etched pattern, or glaze applied for surface texture, colour and design or simply as an outline to compliment a shape. For the unglazed or clear coated work, I hand color the clay body with ceramic stain; however clay’s natural browns, reds and creams are my preference. The pieces are usually thrown on a potter’s wheel, often altered and carved. Designs are etched into the surface. A favourite technique of mine is agate ware. This is where different coloured clay bodies are marbled and thrown into a pot creating beautiful earthy coloured swirls that dance around the pot. After a bisque firing, the pieces are glazed with a clear coat to expose the lovely natural clay colours. The work is then fired to cone 6 or 8 in a small electric kiln. Each firing is a little different. Each kiln opening is exciting as I learn a little more every time.
This excitement stokes a fire with in to keep working, creating and looking for new ways to express my vision and share my observations of the world around me.