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2003/6/1 Vessel, 'Diamond ship-form', Southern Ice porcelain, made by Les Blakebrough, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2002. Click to enlarge.

‘Diamond ship-form’ by Les Blakebrough

Made by Blakebrough, Les in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2002.

This is a new form made by distinguished potter, Les Blakebrough, from the translucent, white porcelain clay, the Les Blakebrough Southern Ice porcelain, that he has developed in recent years, and is now available commercially. Developed out of a consistent practice over fifty years, it reflects his increasing interest in refining his forms and decoration to best use to advantage this dazzling, white, translucent porcelain clay. Arriving in Australia from England in 1948, Les Blakebrough (b.193...


Object No.


Object Statement

Vessel, 'Diamond ship-form', Southern Ice porcelain, made by Les Blakebrough, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2002

Physical Description

Vessel made of white, translucent porcelain. It has a narrow oval form on flat base with straight, slightly concave sides, rising to thin rim. The form has a matt exterior with band of rows of double diamond pattern in relief and a clear glazed interior.


Signed on base, stamped 'LB / 2002' in monogram. Number on white label, printed in black ink '6'.



195 mm


130 mm



This 'Diamond ship-form' vessel was made by Les Blakebrough in 2002. Note that Blakebrough does not use the term 'vase', and prefers to use a descriptive term for these vessels, hence 'ship-form'. He says this comes from the days where the sales tax laws required a different terminology to identify objects as other than utilitarian.

The ship-form is thrown as a cylinder, altered into the oval form, and then placed on a rectangular base. The edges of the form are pressed onto the base which is then trimmed to fit. The interior of the vessel is a clear high-temperature porcelain glaze.

The diamond pattern is made by masking the clay with shellac, and then sponging it back. First, a grid is drawn on in pencil, and the first small squares of shellac are painted on with a brush, where the lines intersect. A fine layer of clay is sponged off, leaving the small raised area. Next day a bigger diamond (or other pattern, depending on the design; others include 'Forest Floor', and 'Derwent') ) is painted over and the clay is sponged again. This happens over several days until the design is complete. The rims are often carved or sponged back also.

Comments by Blakebrough about the process: 'I give the rim a fair bit of attention. It is important for this form to have a crisp edge. If natural light - especially sunlight - hits it, it lights up so that it is almost ethereal.'

Les Blakebrough remains always innovative within the disciplined parameters he has defined for himself and his current work reflects a lifetime of knowledge and experience that crosses different ceramic traditions. His confidence in making comes from an intimate understanding of his materials and processes, and his ideas from an acute observation of place and form. During all those years, where he was very influential as a teacher, he consistently carried out his own practice, always exploring clays and glazes from a variety of sources. The names given to some of his materials used in Tasmania give some clue as to where he dug them out or picked up rocks: like Coles Bay blue glaze, and South Mt Cameron glaze.

Always concerned with using local materials, and increasingly interested in combining his earlier Japanese experiences and influences with a Scandinavian industrial ceramic aesthetic, over the last few years Blakebrough has developed a special porcelain to suit his purposes. Strong, intensely white and translucent, his Southern Ice Porcelain provides endless opportunities to work with surface textures and light. Layers of clay can be carved and sponged away to allow variations of translucency and opacity; matt exterior surfaces and clear interior glazes catch and transmit light in different ways. It provides endless opportunities to work with surface textures and light, in what is now a very minimal colour range.

Constant themes in recent years have been the patterns of ripples on water and of leaves and grasses on the ground - such as 'Forest Floor', and 'Derwent' (ripples on the River Derwent, in Hobart). The surfaces have been compared with the subtle texture of damask fabric, which you may not be fully aware of until the light falls on it.

Blakebrough has also consistently used a number of characteristic forms: tall cylinders, spheres, rounded cup and bowl forms, large plates and platters. For some time he worked on a quite massive scale, making huge spheres, cylinders and platters, in stoneware and porcelain. These forms gave him the opportunity to decorate the large surfaces in often loose, gestural marks. For a few years he was very much involved in blowing glass, and some of these forms appeared in glass as well.



This ship-form was exhibited in 'Les Blakebrough', at Ceramic Art Gallery, Paddington, in November 2002.


Credit Line

Purchased with donations from Collection Companions of the Powerhouse Members, 2003

Acquisition Date

10 January 2003

Cite this Object


'Diamond ship-form' by Les Blakebrough 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 February 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title='Diamond ship-form' by Les Blakebrough |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=25 February 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Collection Gallery 1 at the Museums Discovery Centre.

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