With a degree in Theatre Studies, Jo started working backstage in the wardrobe departments of Opera North, the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden and Sadler’s Wells. Jo then had a change of direction, volunteering in a pre-school scheme in a village in North India and later travelled round other parts of South East Asia. She trained to be a teacher and taught in Kirklees schools in West Yorkshire for 30 years. A love of pottery inspired her to try Adult Education classes – and she was instantly hooked. For years she blocked her front door with her pottery wheel and often covered the kitchen table with her work. She has retired from teaching to live on the Devon coast and make smoke pots.
“On returning from Asia, I trained as a teacher. I took up pottery in evening classes and caught the bug. I love throwing and have spent years happily making functional wear. However, over the past few years, I have given up glazes and concentrated on smoked pottery. I still throw, but alter the thrown shape, cover it with a layer of slip and burnish it. After biscuit firing, the pots are put in a bonfire with a variety of combustible materials and the flames and smoke create patterns. Nothing is the same. Each piece is unique. I can control what happens to a certain extent, but I like the unpredictability of this process The effects can range from charcoal black to soft greys and smoky browns. Sometimes the surface reminds me of a starry night sky or early daguerrotypes. The pieces are waxed and polished to give a high sheen.”
Born in Sunderland in 1956, Ian Watson took a first Degree from Liverpool in 1978, and an MA from Leeds in 1996. He has divided his time between teaching Art and Painting and has run the Art Departments at The Mount School York, and The English International College Marbella. He has painted in Spain, Greece and Australia, exhibiting in all three. Ian works in oil, pastel and mixed media producing work in a variety of styles around the themes of the Nude and Landscape. After 37 years teaching he has now retired to the Devon coast and is devoting all his time to painting.
“All of my works begin as small sketches from life which are then developed in layers of oil on canvas. I want to make paintings that do not have the flat sheen of mass-media photos of places or bodies, but in which the surfaces show a flawed, imperfect reality. I do not hold to any particular style of painting, letting each work develop what seems to be the correct method which could be thin paint layers, heavy impasto or a combination of both. These are images created by layers of memory and direct observation, fluid, and changing. Each painting combines several viewpoints; fleeting acts of perception merging into something that, whatever else it is, is not a ‘view’. I was always concerned that the painted surface should be gritty and curiously textured like the real. Recently I have become intrigued by the way my drawing methods create networks of sight lines. These are a result of combining different viewpoints encountered during my movement through the landscape, or round a body, as well as the movement of the landscape or the body itself. These works are a result of these deliberations.”