Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, the Australian born artist/potter has died in London age 77. Pigott was born in Ballarat, Victoria in 1935 and studied Fine Arts at Melbourne University. She trained with Ivan McMeekin in New South Wales and worked with Ray Finch, Bernard Leach and Michael Cardew in Britain. She set up studio in London’s Portobello Road in 1960 and later in Acheres, France, quickly establishing herself as an interenationally known figure. Pigott returned to Australia in 1975 and lived and worked there visiting London on occasion, until her death.
Her work was very much like a Morandi painting brought to life. The work of Edmund de Waal owes much to her widespread influence. Gwyn Hanssen Pigott exhibited extensively in Australia, America, Europe and Asia and is the recipient of many awards. Her work is in numerous private and public collections worldwide. In 2002 she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the arts as a ceramic artist and teacher.
In a 1999 review, Helen Stephens writes of Hanssen Pigott: “She says in making her forms, she dared herself to go to the edge of formlessness and, she wrote: “To my delight the pared down forms remained pots; glazed, strong, usable. What is more, this eccentric presentation, unframed, unboxed, completely floating on an idea, was accepted.” She says she is wary of design: “Skill is one thing but a pot has to breathe.” These groups have a meditative value—we take time out to consider them in the rush of life. People who purchase these groups of pots set aside alcoves, shelves, specially designed locations for these object groupings. Their strength and individuality; their cool composure; their certainty; their lightness and depth have the power to move and reassure. Pigott says they have, “for a moment pulled on our attention, with, perhaps, a reminder of our own vulnerability, and beauty and possibility of transformation and repose”. The range of colours also have a powerful effect—from pure white groupings to rich and intense browns that seem to glisten out of the darkness.”