All are pieces by the Clonmel Potters, husband and wife team Belva & Donald Johnson. They have been producing in their studio in Clonmel, St. Mary since 1976. They first met as students of the then Jamaica School of Art (now the Edna Manley College of Visual and performing Arts). Both specialized in Ceramics graduating in the summer of 1973 with distinctions.
Kilns Built with Recycled Bricks
Their early years were very challenging as they experimented with Jamaican clays and a succession of kilns built from recycled bricks in an attempt to arrive at a suitable context for their creative expression which was also affordable and which provided a manageable loss rate. They needed to create a clay body strong enough for functional ware but light in colour and smooth enough for carved celadons and sgraffito.
It became obvious that in order to supply the gift market successfully with wholesale prices new production methods were necessary which would make it easier to produce similar items in greater numbers and at a manageable cost. Donald began experiments in the use of Jamaican materials to produce a sustainable slip casting body. He was successful in the creation of a light firing casting slip which had not been done before in Jamaica. In the last few years they have been importing most of their raw materials as the mining and processing of local materials has become challenging. This year they have plans to build a new energy-efficient kiln.
Belva and Donald Johnson are recipients of the Bronze Musgrave Medal 1994, the Jamaican Society of Scientists and Technologists Award for Innovation and Creativity in the field of Ceramics and the Prime Minister’s Award of Excellence.