In December 2010 I moved from Hobart, Tasmania to Coledale, a former coal-mining village south of Sydney. Here I embarked on making a new studio, a garden, and putting a stamp on the home that also houses my partner, daughter and two granddaughters.
This part of the Illawarra is a narrow strip of land squeezed between a high sandstone escarpment and the Pacific Ocean. Forest, cliff and sea are always in sight. In the subtropical climate the garden grows quickly. New sights and sounds have already made their mark on the work I am making here.
My work continues to be made of Southern Ice Porcelain, the clay that has been a feature of my work since I designed and researched it some twenty years ago. While the inside of the pieces are glazed, most external surfaces remain unglazed, since this porcelain lends itself to being pared back and minimal.
Most of the work's surface treatments arise out of experiences of place. The kelp forests of Eastern Tasmania continue to preoccupy me, and many pieces have kelp-like images on their surfaces. I also have a strong intuition about the surf and the surf culture along this coast that pays homage to it; the works titled 'Surf's Up' tie into life in Coledale. Other local images relate to the surface of the ocean in its quieter, less agitated moments.
Before they emerge as images, the ideas for my work can ferment for a long time. They get refined over time until I feel confident about them.
Les Blakebrough, Coledale NSW April 2014