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Gardiner Museum

Jason Holley

Jason Holley

Stoneware, cone 6, raku glaze, newsprint reduction, acrylic


I love creating my work. When I get anxious, restless, agitated, I head to the studio. I find certainty in the pattern, reassurance in my methods. It can be unforgiving. Mistakes in the pattern compound themselves and can be difficult to dig out. The clay must be specifically dry, too wet and it warps, too dry and it crumbles. It requires a discipline and commitment I’ve not managed anywhere else in life.

The Raku firings are cathartic. It seems appropriate that after all the care I put in to each piece I chose such a violent and destructive method of finishing. Raku is notoriously difficult to control and often leads to disaster, when it works it can be glorious.

The finished work looks so strong, militaristic, permanent. It’s not. The slightest violence will show just how brittle my illusion really is. I’m not out to fool people. I’ve wasted so much energy hiding my own weaknesses I’m becoming eager to highlight them. For me, these sculptures are about weakness, not strength.

Jason Holley


Based in Amherst Cove, Newfoundland, Jason Holley studied at Memorial University of Newfoundland, the College of the North Atlantic and the Craft Council Clay Studio in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Holley has learned to traverse from fibre to metal to ceramics and back. His chainmail ceramic sculptures were exhibited in the gallery at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Cheongju International Craft Biennale in South Korea, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax and The Rooms in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He was awarded The People’s Choice Award at The Artist Project, 2012 in Toronto.

Nominator Statement

Jason Holley represents the surge of interdisciplinary artists in Canada today who utilize clay as an expressive material for their conceptual work. What makes Holley's Raku chain sculpture stand out is that he has dedicated himself to learning all aspects of clay, resulting in spectacular and technically excellent work.

Sandra Alfoldy, nominator
Professor of Craft History Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University,
and Associate Curator of Fine Craft, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax

Nominator Bio

Dr. Sandra Alfoldy is Professor of Craft History at NSCAD University, and Associate Curator of Fine Craft at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. She is the author of "The Allied Arts: Architecture and Craft in Postwar Canada" (2012), and "Crafting Identity: the development of professional fine craft in Canada" (2005), and editor of "Neocraft:Crafts and Modernity" (2007).

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Toni Hafkenscheid Photography

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