Listed in alphabetical order
Joanna Wason is a Cornish potter. She studied at Exeter College of Art and Liverpool Art School in the mid 1970s and then became a figurative and portrait sculptor rimarily working in clay, although much of her work was then cast.
In the 1990’s she began assisting Janet Leach at the Leach Pottery, St Ives until Janet’s death and continued at the Leach Pottery until its temporary closure and expansion in 2006. Here she started making her own slab-built and thrown glazed stoneware pots. She now works from her own studio near St Just. Joanna makes stoneware studio pieces in the Leach tradition and fires them in a gas kiln.
Her work is exhibited at Lemon Street Gallery, Truro and Withiel House Sculpture Garden, Cornwall.
“As well as figurative sculptures I make pots, and one great advantage of showing pots is that nobody ever asks ‘what’s it a pot of? ‘ but the same cannot be said of sculptures.
The idea for making these figures originally came from seeing extremely simple but compelling Mycenaean sculptures in books and in the British Museum, and wanting to try to make something similar for myself. As time has gone on they have developed their own identity.
To bring my sculpted figures to life I try to focus their attention on something, otherwise they can look self-conscious. They are often reading a book or listening to music, which seems to provide a frame, or at least a sense of containment.
The manipulation of the physical proportions in my figures is there to give emphasis, stature and visual strength; and also to ensure that they can never be mistaken for dollies.”
Jason Wason has lived and worked for over thirty years on the moors above St Just in Penwith, a wild landscape marked by the remains of Cornwall’s mining industry and ancient standing stones. His own work is informed by this location as much as by his extensive travels around the world and his knowledge of ancient and ceremonial pottery.
Wason’s ability to create timeless objects which reference ancient sacred traditions give them an added spiritual quality. The subtle, earthy and metallic colours are derived from mineral deposits excavated from the landscape near his studio. These are utilised in the creation of Wason’s technically challenging forms. The surface of his vessels rarely seem smooth, Wason’s preference is to sand and mark the surface, giving the pieces a worn, organically aged or eroded characteristic . The studded vessels are sparingly embellished with arranged studs or incised lines.
The lidded Temple Top Vessels, with their metallic or conical pointed lids reference Buddhist temples and sacred, symbolic containers. But, the surfaces of these unglazed vessels are not what you would call decorative in a traditional sense as he does not use glazes: “I play around with all sorts of materials some of which are used as ingredients in a traditional glaze, but the notion of putting a coat of glass one my clay has never really interested me. The clay itself is the skin of the object.”
The exploration of new themes is perhaps most apparent in the ‘Warmonger’ pieces, created over a number of years tackling head on the brutality of recent military campaigns which have seen a tragic impact upon civilian populations. He refers to these pieces as “small touchstones to humanity”.
“Wason is an outstanding craftsman driven by passion and strong beliefs. His originality, his skills and his willingness to pursue his own vision have all contributed to the creation of a challenging and engaging artist. The range and quality in Silent Witness will undoubtedly make us think, and at times make us uncomfortable.”
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