Obituary: Joan Brown, potter

Joan Brown. Picture: submitted
Joan Brown. Picture: submitted
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Born: 1926. Died: 6 March, 2016 in Bath.

Joan Brown (born 1926, née Bruford) trained in drawing and painting at Edinburgh College of Art and the University of Edinburgh where she obtained a Diploma in Art and an MA Hons. in History of Art. She was lucky enough to study at the art college at an exciting time when John Maxwell and William Gillies were teaching and Anne Redpath was a strong influence.

There was a very strong ‘Edinburgh School of Painting’ and a wonderful atmosphere for students. Joan Brown took postgraduate courses in textile design and later etching at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London.

She exhibited her woodcut prints and paintings in London at galleries such as Nexus, the Demarco Gallery, Curwen Gallery and also in Cambridge, Edinburgh and the US Joan took up pottery in 1967, set up her own workshop and worked in this medium from then on. She specialised in pots of a decorative and sculptural nature. She was an elected member of the Society of Designer Craftsmen and an associate member of the Craftsman Potters’ Association. Joan held several one-man shows in Richmond, Surrey and also at the Ice House, Holland Park.

She worked on several projects in ceramics for architects (she was married to the well-known landscape architect Michael Brown), creating decorative bricks and water sculptures for housing developments, including a large ceramic water sculpture for the roof garden of the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester as well as other private commissions.

She also worked on small hand-built pots and vases which were sold throughout the London area in galleries such as the Anschel Gallery, Primavera, Amalgam and many others.

Joan particularly enjoyed the freedom and variety of hand-building using coils, slabs or a mixture of the two. She also enjoyed making small, delicate pots by “pinching” directly into a ball of clay with finger and thumb.

Often, she would use mixed coils of coloured clay in the formation of the pot to create different colour effects. As well as an electric kiln, she started to use a gas kiln in order to achieve the subtle effects and sometimes surprising results of reduction firing.

Joan moved back to Edinburgh in the 1990’s and worked on small, organic pieces, some made in porcelain and inspired by natural forms as well as on larger, sculptural figures.

She exhibited in galleries around Scotland such as the Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh, Queens Road Gallery, Aberdeen, Artisanat Gallery, Perth and was accepted on several occasions for Christmas exhibitions of the SAAC in the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh where she won an award for the most original work. She was a member of the Scottish Potters’ Association.

Since December 2008 Joan lived in the Bath area to be nearer to her daughter.