“Born in South Africa in 1948, I have been working in ceramics since 1970. Having always been drawn to its translucent and ethereal qualities I worked mainly in porcelain for a number of years. My current work is in Bone China which due to its exceptional translucency seems to be the perfect material for the expression of my ideas. The work is decorated with a combination of wax resist and soluble metallic salts, which permeate the body and create a ‘watercolor’ effect.
Early in 2000 I was employed at the TWR (now University of Johannesburg) and I enrolled for my B Tech Ceramic Design. It was during this period that my experimentation with bone china began, and I produced a body of extreme whiteness with excellent translucency. My early work in bone china was pierced and sandblasted. On completion of my B Tech, for which I gained a distinction in ceramic practice, I started exploring and using soluble salts.
This still occupies me today and it seems that after all the experimentation I am finally making the work I want to be making. I find the soluble salts to be so different to the oxides with which one usually colours ceramics, not only their subtlety but also the way they gently permeate the surface of the work creating a watercolour effect. For this work I have garnered several accolades. Two of the most important of these being; in 2008 I won an award of merit at the Corobrick National Ceramics Biennale held in Johannesburg, South Africa, and I was honored to have a piece of work selected for the 5th World Ceramic Biennale, in Korea 2009.” John Shirley