Thank you to Jane Sawyer for her lovely words: Vale Janet Mansfield. Bereft and sad we will be for a long, long time. Janet was so supportive of my work from when I was a young aspiring potter - and everyone I know says the same thing. She was a true hero with a warm down to earth nature, a love of red wine and humorous chats, a sparkle in her eye and a mother figure to all. We Australian potters all have so much to thank her for - she put us on the world stage and represented us everywhere. She was editor of Pottery In Australia and Ceramics Art & Perception, a true can-do character organising Gulgong events and so much more. Such loss and sadness is ours today and for a long, long time.
JANET MANSFIELD O.A.M.
Janet Mansfield was born in Sydney, Australia and studied ceramics at the National Art School, East Sydney Technical College during 1964-65.
Her lifetime in ceramics ended in February 2013, after a struggle with cancer. Her achievements added up to several lifetimes’ worth: potter, exhibitor, writer, editor and publisher, judge and jurist, diplomat, traveller.
She was highly regarded in the field of art ceramics in Australia and her considerable contribution to that art has been acknowledged by awards including an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Tasmania in 2004, and the Australia Council for the Arts Emeritus Award in 1990. This is a distinction awarded to few Australian artists in any medium. The even greater honour of the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1987 is recognition of her value to the nation. Her international contributions have been widely recognised at the highest level, for example by the award of honorary membership by the US ceramics organisation NCECA in 2003. She is one of few non-citizens of the USA to receive this honour.
Within Australia and later internationally she was in constant demand as a speaker and judge of competitions. She organised a series of events in Gulgong, the small town near the family farm Morning View. These gatherings, famous among Australian ceramicists, have helped expand the network of contacts which have led to the internationalisation of Australian ceramics.
Mansfield served as editor of the magazine Pottery in Australia of the Australian Potter’s Society - and as the president of that organisation (1976-1989). Subsequently she was active in the Crafts Council of NSW (President 1972-73) and later the Crafts Council of Australia where she was an Executive Member 1971 to 1975.
Subsequently her courage in the face of risk was well illustrated when she started up the magazine Ceramics Art and Perception in 1990. The challenge was getting a new magazine out there and viable. The risk was compounded by styling it from the beginning as the international ceramics magazine. Eventually she took Australia to the world through this and her subsequent other magazine Ceramics Technical. Her authorship of six books (the latest, Ceramics and the Environment was published in 2005) on Australian and international ceramics was enriched by her broad acceptance of a diversity of ceramic styles, an asset which helped her become a successful publisher and editor. Her publishing company Mansfield Press was her most recent venture with several books published.
In the role of diplomat she has unequivocally been the most important figure in Australian ceramics, working as an agent for international exchange. In her wide travels she participated in international juries, symposia, conferences and workshops, ultimately becoming president of the International Academy of Ceramics from 2006 to 2012. Her friendly personality helped create opportunities for contacts between ceramicists internationally.
She worked as a ceramicist through all these other activities, with 35 solo exhibitions in Australia, Japan and New Zealand, and involvement in group exhibition in more than 20 countries. Her work is represented in most Australian public galleries including the Australian National Gallery, and internationally including USA, Hungary, Japan, UK, NZ, Canada, Norway, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, China.
Elaine Olufsen Henry, current editor/publisher of the international magazines Ceramics Art and Perception and Ceramics Technical, has said:
"The international contributions that Janet Mansfield made to the ceramics community are unprecedented and unsurpassed. Combining her love of the ceramics field worldwide with her affinity for words and language, Janet was able to change the world of ceramics publication and elevate it to a new level. This does not even touch on her many accomplishments and teachings as a ceramics artist. We have lost an international treasure. Her devotion to ceramic art, personal vibrancy, intelligence and generosity of spirit made the work of makers, thinkers and writers throughout the world feel more connected, thoughtful and meaningful."
Janet Mansfield is survived by her husband Colin and four adult children Neil, Gayle, Elizabeth and Claire.
Dr Owen Rye