About Lesley-AnnLesley-Ann is an internationally acclaimed ceramicist, she has won numerous ceramic awards such as Corobrick Award in 1982 and 1996. She specialises in Handwork – Pinched, Coiled and Paddled Pots. She moved from Oxidised Stoneware to Raku and has found her niche with raku, not only the Hot Art pots but also her personal works.
In her own wordsBecause I have always worked at home, my studio is open 24/7. I teach pottery classes in three-hour sessions every week in my hand building studio. I only have one class a week on a Thursday as I want to concentrate my efforts on my own studio pots and Hot Art.
I took a big step back in terms of time spent in the studio after a divorce in 1998, as I was running the studio alone at the time. This was followed by a series of illnesses including debilitating sciatica and a sinister breast lump. I took a break from pottery to channel all my energy into alternative healing methods and am very happy to say that I am now healthy and have been for a few years.
At the moment I’m waiting for my next good book. The last was Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, which completely absorbed me, I immediately started reading it again the moment I finished it! I listen to a huge range of music saved on playlists on my computer – old favourites from the flower children revolution, classical music, as well as the music we listened to as teenagers, and beyond. My present favourite listening pleasure is Mattafix.
I am primarily influenced by nature and I try to be in the right frame of mind for inspiration. I know that I just need to get started and do what I know I can do if I’m feeling blocked, such as start to wedge some clay and make a few pots, not to plan or worry how they come out, rather do my best in the moment and watch to see what comes out.
Those mental roadblocks are what it is all about for me, teaching me to stop thinking my way out and start feeling my way out – to get out of my own head! Inspiration hits when I am relaxed and receptive and not when I’m wracking my brain. It’s important for me to just keep my hands busy; to be an obedient servant to the process of creativity, which is an expression of life.
My approach to pots is that I personalize pots that are already vessels with feet, bellies, shoulders, shoulders, mouths, lips, ears and attitude! I do not plan, so as the mood takes me, I start to dig into the clay bin and when it feel right, I wedge and I start to pinch the clay. Then, I rely on the fact that my body does the math and physics, so I try not to think. I just wait for the picture of the finished piece to flash across my mind as I work. Through experience, I know the idea for the final form comes from the process. Essentially trial by fire in the raku kiln completes the vessel and imparts unexpected gifts, more than anything the mind can dream up.
Up until now I have exhibited at local galleries and the annual regional and national exhibitions of the South African Ceramics Association. Word of mouth for the fireplaces is our best advertising, and it feels good to get appreciation from people who ordinarily might have no special interest in ceramics, but because of their interest in the fireplaces, are using a work of art that functions.