Ian Garrett

Ian Garrett has always been fascinated by ancient ceramics, which he merges with his own creativity. Etruscans, Minoans, native Americans, ancient Chinese and Strandlopers (an extinct group of southern African Khoisan people) whose potsherds he’s collected from boyhood.

The simplicity of form and similarity of technique such as coiling, common to all these cultures, is a source of inspiration to him.
It led him to a Masters in ceramics at the University of KZN supervised by Juliet Armstrong and Ian Calder, and field trips to rural areas researching Zulu potters such as Nester Nala, the subject of his thesis.

After coiling and pinching his pots of terracotta clay, he burnishes them with agate pebbles to compact the clay particles and smooth the surface. Using mussel shells and quills, he incises delicate geometric patterns onto the surface to enhance the shape. Although these decorations are sometimes characteristic of Zulu pots, the intricacy of Ian’s work is exceptional. Read more here.

Like New Mexico’s Pueblo potters, he double burnishes his pots to achieve a high gloss finish. A combination of pit-firing and saggar-firing with wood-bark, cow dung or dried aloe leaves imparts a lustrous black shine or softly varied terracotta colours to the work.

He’s ‘’interested in exploring techniques and processes that add to the surface effects in ceramics, the richness of colour, sheen and texture’’.

Ian has exhibited in New York and Paris and his work is represented in private and public collections throughout South Africa.

Courtesy: Craft Art in South Africa, Dr Elbé Coetsee


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