Thursday, 11 August 2011

Jan Downes

In my last blog I wrote about lithophanes, illuminating porcelain to take advantage of its transparent qualities. I continue to be interested in printing onto the porcelain surface, either as intaglio making a variety of thicknesses or on the surface such as by silk screen printing.
Above are a few examples of these. The top one “Secret Scrolls” is silkscreen printed, each scroll has a different script, my concept being about preservation of these texts in a digital age.
The work below it ‘Labeled for Life” denotes the names of women who were transported to Australia and the crimes which led to their sentences.
The third work is an intaglio print, the original carved into plaster and the bottom piece is a lino print. These two are coloured after the impression is taken.

I have just read The Hare with amber eyes written by Edmund de Waal, one of Britain’s top ceramic artists. Not only a brilliant ceramic artist but also a great writer. The book is a biography of his own family. The thread of the story is traced through a collection of 264 netsuke, small Japanese carvings which de Waal inherited, one of which is a hare with amber eyes.
I think de Waal’s thrown porcelain forms are sublime. And he presents them as assemblages in a variety of interesting enclosed spaces. I recently saw his installation of 100 pots in a circle below a ceiling dome in the new ceramic galleries of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
I particularly enjoyed de Waal’s book because he writes so well and so adequately expresses an aesthetic understanding and sensitivity to the material world. There are a number of clips on youtube of Edmund de Waal speaking about the book and his ceramics.


  1. Hi Jan, these are beautiful images. I am going to look into intaglio work, I hadn't heard of it. Lino print as texture is another one I hadn't thought of. This is a very 'inspiring' blog for me...!

  2. Thanks Jo, I, happy to share any technical details if you want them.
    Cheers, Jan

  3. I also loved The Hare With Amber Eyes - I've always liked DeWaal's writing a lot better than his pots - but the Hare was best by far - in telling the story it feels as though he truly brings history to life - the stories about Vienna at the turn of the century.... wonderful.