Emma Johnstone

Emma Johnstone - Ceramics Tutor

I first learned the ancient Japanese technique of raku – 楽, meaning enjoyable, comfort, ease – in Jerusalem. I fell in love with its technical demands and aesthetic intensity, and have been on a journey into its possibilities ever since.

My work explores the tension between this dramatic, intense, and fast firing technique and the aesthetic possibilities of elemental qualities and shapes. In raku, the pot is brought to 1000 °C in less than 1 hour and then, while it glows red-hot, it is removed from the kiln with tongs and placed into a bin of sawdust. The thermal shock as the temperature rapidly drops causes fine cracking in the glaze on the surface of the body. As the sawdust smoulders, the carbon produced is absorbed into the cracks in the glaze, staining the surface of the pot in a dramatic and distinctive pattern.

For over fifteen years, I have been creating a range of work including hollow wheel-thrown forms reflecting iconic and ancient shapes. I have completely dispensed with the use of glazes, and rely on the effect that the intense heat and rapid change in temperature has on the clay surface and body. I use the slip resist technique that stops the glaze sticking to the surface of the piece. Colour and contrast are sometimes introduced into each piece by way of gold, silver, and copper leaf. I use these to emphasise preciousness, vibrancy and timelessness, as well as in response to the distinct organic feel of the rims and flat surfaces.



1st Class honours Degree – workshop ceramics


Open Eye Gallery Edinburgh - Solo show 2012 Art in Action 2014 - Demonstration tent Jam Eton – 20th Exhibition June 2014