Sturt Pottery Obituary, Death – Les Blakebrough AM, a pioneer in the Sturt Pottery industry, passed away this morning, and we are shocked and saddened to learn of his passing (1930-2022). David Moore captured this photograph of Les in 1965 while he was utilizing the three-chambered climbing kiln. Our archives detail the history of the countless pots that have been fired on this site, as well as the pioneer who made an indelible mark on the world and contributed significantly during his lifetime.
Les went on to become one of the most renowned and influential ceramic artists in Australia over the course of a career that spanned six decades. His enormous body of work included everything from earthy functional wares to the delicate forms he created more recently. The exquisiteness of these later works elevated the translucent quality and delicate nature of the Southern Ice Porcelain that he had spent years perfecting and which he had trademarked. His passionate research and development of the techniques and materials of ceramics led him on journeys of discovery, such as studying with master potters in Japan in the 1960s and working with leading manufacturers of industrial ceramics in Scandinavia in the 1990s. His research and development of the techniques and materials of ceramics was inspired by his interest in the history of ceramics.
As a working artist, educator, mentor, and advocate for artistic vision in Australia, Blakebrough made a significant and extraordinary contribution to the fields of visual art, craft, and design. First as an apprentice to the pioneering potter Ivan McMeekin at Sturt Pottery in the 1950s, then as Director of the Sturt Pottery and Sturt Workshops in the 1960s and 1970s, a founding member of the Crafts Board of the Australia Council, Head of Ceramics at the Tasmanian School of Art, and a Principle Research Fellow at the University of Tasmania, he has had a distinguished career in the ceramics industry. He was honored with a great number of prizes and commissions, and his artwork can be found in the most important public collections in Australia as well as in a great number of other countries around the world.
Les’s immense legacy was warmly celebrated here in October of last year when we hosted the release of his memoirs as part of Sturt’s 80th anniversary, and he was looking forward to our next celebration together for Sturt Pottery’s 70th anniversary in May. In October of last year, we celebrated Les’s legacy by hosting the release of his memoirs as part of Sturt’s 80th anniversary. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time. He had a significant impact on the arts and culture in this country, and his work will never be forgotten for the important role he played.