Gail Nichols is recognized internationally for her innovative approach to soda vapour glazing. Born in the USA in 1953, she completed a mechanical engineering degree at Michigan State University in 1976. She worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia for two years before migrating to Australia, where she began her ceramic studies in Sydney. Through extensive research leading to completion of a PhD at Monash University in 2002, Nichols developed her unique vapour glaze aesthetic and technical approach to materials and firing. She makes vessels with soft organic forms and lush dimpled glazes that appear to ooze out of the clay itself. Her book, Soda Clay and Fire, published by the American Ceramic Society, is a leading text on soda vapour glazing.Nichols has developed a method of vaporizing her soda mixture in the kiln’s firebox. This eliminates the need for a spray apparatus and allows for more dramatic directional effects as the soda vapour moves through the kiln. She has developed special high alumina clay bodies that interact more effectively with the soda to create icy matte glazes. Her surfaces have been likened to “a visual impression of snow and ice moving glacially over the surface” of her forms, creating a wide palette of colours including red, yellow, blue-green, mauve, gray and black. Her sculptural ceramics contrast open and closed forms to play with volume and movement. Some forms appear to be stretched from the inside like balloons, while others conform to more graceful curves.
Nichols now lives and works at the foot of Mount Budawang near Braidwood, NSW, on a 120 acre rural property characterized by rugged terrain and gently curving forms, which are reflected in her ceramics. Nichols aims to create powerful, beautiful works that “quietly overwhelm” the viewer, “revealing something beyond the ordinary.”In her talk, Nichols will discuss the development of her work and unique approach to atmospheric firing. The talk will be held at 7:00 pm, Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Room 103 at the Shadbolt Centre (6450 Deer Lake Ave., Burnaby). The lecture is free and open to the public, and we look forward to seeing you there.
For more information on the Shadbolt Centre, please see www.shadboltcentre.com