The Quiet Touch of the Flame
: the subtle woodfire aesthetics of the ceramics of Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie (1895-1985), Jacqueline Lerat (1920-2009), and Gwyn Hanssen Pigott (1935-2013)

  • Helena Coll Minogue

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Woodfire methodologies with the aim of achieving a wide range of aesthetic outcomes continue to be prevalent within contemporary international ceramics practice. Individual woodfire practices have developed based on choices of materials and processes, and many practitioners are finding in woodfiring a challenging, satisfying, and inspiring endeavour, providing on-going potential for personal expression. This thesis is concerned with aesthetic outcomes resulting from specific approaches to the process of woodfiring, which combined I am terming 'The Quiet Touch of the Flame', a description that I have been using in my published writings for some twenty years. The aesthetic aims and work of three potters and artists that are expressive of this descriptive term, and to which it can appropriately be applied are its central focus. They are Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie, Britain (1895–1985), Jacqueline Lerat, France (1920–2009), and Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Australia (1935–2013). In the context of this thesis the use of the term 'quiet' extends beyond surface qualities achieved through woodfiring, and also relates to the mood evoked by individual pieces. It is argued that employing original creative approaches to produce innovative ranges of work incorporating woodfire methodologies that resulted in quiet surface effects, the three makers created work that evokes an overall sense of quietness. It is also argued that their influence extended beyond the specialist areas of woodfiring and wood-fired ceramics, into the broader field of contemporary ceramics. The practices of these makers are of significance from other perspectives, including the periods when they began woodfiring and exploring the potential it offered for the development of their work, the kilns that they used, and the research they carried out. There was a pioneering aspect to their involvement, not only in woodfiring, but pottery in general.
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University


  • ceramics
  • woodfire
  • aesthetics
  • quiet

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