After 3 decades at his potter's wheel, Ted Secombe says that making pots is more challenging now than when he first began, as his motivation is the purely the expression of his ideas and creativity. He has now developed a mastery of the medium that allows him to take his experimentation further than ever before.
Ted likes to work with different shapes and now prefers much simpler forms, forms with the sense of an easy curve, 'like a brush stroke'. 'My inspiration comes when the clay is on the wheel and I am looking at the sensuousness of the curve,' he says. Sometimes he is influenced by the structure of plants and leaves. Ted' s other passion is gardening and he has created a glorious two-acre garden around his studio.
While the grace and size of the pots is impressive, the glazes Ted uses are rich in colour, and delicate in texture and patterning.
Ted Secombe is well known for his beautiful crystalline glazes, as well as his pots of cobalt blue and deep crimson. He works with a huge range of colours and, as with his forms, Ted is now experimenting and developing a new range of glazes, some of which are reminiscent of ancient Chinese glazes. The new glazes involve different firing procedures and Ted is attempting to achieve the best possible results by altering the time and temperature of the firing.
The colours in his garden are also an inspiration to him, and his glazes in autumnal colours are a direct response to the autumn season in Victoria. Ted lived in Queensland for many years, originally establishing a studio in Toowoomba in 1979, before he moved to the Yarra Valley in 1989.
Ted and his partner Ann set up a luxury B&B in the Yarra Valley, and ran that for 9 years selling in 2006, they have now built a new home and studio with Gallery for viewing sill in the Yarra Valley at Dixon's Creek.
Ted Secombe's work has been exhibited throughout Australia and in Sendai, Morioka and Sapporo in Japan. In 2001 he was invited to show a selection of pots in an exhibition of the world's ten top crystalline glaze technologists, in Leeuwarden, Holland, and his pots received great acclaim. Ted's work is in many public and private collections, and he now receives commissions to produce large ceramic works for corporations and hotels in Australia, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
"My need to create vessels of monumental size is driven by a desire to challenge myself as a maker. Being involved in large ceramic vessel production increases awareness of the diversity of skills required to bring about a successful outcome.
Complex problem areas of creation are magnified as vessel size increases. Meticulous planning, advanced throwing skills and physical strength are an integral part of the process.
Glazing poses particular problems as vast surface areas have to be dealt with. Successful pieces of monumental size have a presence that small pieces cannot emulate.
Monumental beautifully formed vessels fill a place of importance in the viewer's imagination. I personally create vessels suited to both grand entrances like those experienced in International hotel lobbies and garden environments where natural elements like sunlight and raindrops can enhance alter or play with form and glaze."
Crystalline glazes are among the most fascinating in the ceramic world. A crystalline glaze is characterised by clusters of various shapes and colours embedded into an otherwise uniform glaze of zinc or calcium. This unpredictable process requires a slow cooling process for the development of the crystals and a great deal of skill from the artist. Through his persistence with the technique, Ted Secombe has become one of world's finest practitioners. One can both see as well as feel the structure of the crystals on the surface of his vessels.
Crystalline is expensive to produce. It is labour intensive, demanding great skill and precise control of materials and processes. It is one of the most challenging techniques a potter can undertake. Metallic oxides and combinations of various materials are used to produce a wide range of colours. These range from dark cobalt blues through to golds, browns, reds, pinks, pearls and greens.
Crystalline glazes require careful application and are fired to temperatures of 1320 C for up to 18 hours. The glaze becomes very fluid at high temperatures and has the tendency to flow from the surface of the pot. Ted Secombe has over the years learned to control this glaze fluidity so each piece has a consistent cover of crystals.
Once the high temperature has been reached, the kiln is rapidly cooled to lower temperatures where the crystals form. As crystal formation requires slow cooling, temperatures are precisely controlled and manipulated for maximum crystal growth within the glaze.
Crystals are formed at random, can take on a myriad of shapes and are three dimensional in nature. The beauty, depth and life expressed in a Crystalline glaze is spectacular and unsurpassed. It is a challenge to even the most experienced and knowledgeable potter.
Commissions and Public Collections
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