Janet Halligan | Hooked as soon as she started working with clay

Janet Halligan

'...as soon as I started working in clay I was hooked...' 

"I went to art college from grammar school much to the disappointment of my teachers who in the mid-sixties really only valued an academic path. Needless to say, the teaching of art at my grammar school was rather perfunctory and I sometimes wonder how I ever ended up on an art course!

I started a pre-degree course with a vague idea of studying graphics because I thought that was the surest path to employment. However, as soon as I started working in clay I was hooked and so went on to apply for a degree course which included this discipline. I actually studied glass with ceramics for my degree and as it was quite a broad course, I worked in a number of different material including wood and metal as well as glass and clay. After graduating I continued to work in a variety of materials, making sculptural objects which I exhibited, but were not easy to sell.

I was probably influenced more by sculptors and painters than other ceramicists...

During the seventies and eighties, I brought up two children and taught art in schools and colleges. I continued to make work, concentrating on ceramics and during the '80s started making the precursors of the “trompe l’oeil“ work I make now. The first pieces were clothed torsos that started off as rectangular pots and gradually took on a more realistic form. I was probably influenced more by sculptors and painters than other ceramicists; Claes Oldenburg the American pop artist who made huge soft sculptures of everyday objects; Rene Magritte who painted shoes with toes.

Janet Halligan | Jug Forms
Alongside the trompe l’oeil work, I have often had forays into other more abstract ways of working. The observational nature of realistic work does not leave enough room for inventing form. The landscape has been a source of shape ideas. My latest landscape-forms have led to a body of work which has developed through the making process. These are vessels and sculptural forms which explore the relationships between curved and angular elements.
Janet Halligan | Teapots

You could say I have been influenced by the traditions of the Leach approach in that I consciously rejected the idea of “truth to materials”, which although long discarded today by many practitioners, was still prevalent in the late sixties when I was at college.

My early sculptural ceramics were angular pieces based on architecture and machinery, a theme that I have partly revisited in recent work. My later work seeks to imitate leather and cloth; all ways of making clay into non-claylike forms."  Janet Halligan 2018

Janet Halligan


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