The curved, gestural forms and soft coloured surfaces of Janet Keefe’s pots make them distinctly recognizable. Using a coil-building technique, she is able to achieve gesture, tension and subtlety in vessels with expressive shapes that often seem to defy the realm of possibility.
Carefully attaching together coils of clay is her preferred way of constructing pots. She says, “It facilitates the slow building of each piece and allows the forms to swell and grow, often asymmetrically.” Using sinuous line to delineate and emphasize movement and transitions, she thoughtfully develops relationships between the exterior and interior of each piece.
Keefe’s art education was at Epsom College of Art and Design in England and private studios in Paris where she discovered the marvelous possibilities inherent in clay. This fascination has endured through years of change: moving from England to Newfoundland and then to Ontario, raising a family, having a career as an Occupational Therapist and being the full time caregiver for her husband.
She has shared her knowledge through workshops and demonstrations for children and adults, and participated in many regional and local art shows, fairs and exhibitions including 1001 Pots (Val-David QC) and Galerie Farfelu (Montreal). Her work was chosen for two Fusion’s Fireworks exhibits and in 2013 she completed a pivotal mentorship program with potter Leta Cormier. Resulting pots lead to awards at the Ottawa Guild of Potters’ exhibitions in 2015 and 2016, a 2017 solo show at the Shenkman Arts Centre (Orleans ON), and participation in 260 Fingers Ceramic Exhibition (Ottawa).
Janet has also studied Ikebana (Sogetsu School) for many years and uses its main principles in her current work: emphasis on line, mass and negative space.
Since returning to her studio in South Glengarry, the work has developed more idiosyncrasy and strength. The forms, colours and textures of her pots are clearly influenced by the quiet countryside, plants, rocks, trees and birds which surround her. By her hands, these singular pieces become beautiful and compelling entities with personalities derived from her location in the world, her knowledge of clay and her own life experience.