Born into a lineage of fishermen in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Jack Doherty’s childhood was spent in the harbour where his family had made their living for generations. Doherty’s desire to formally train as a painter brought him to study at the Ulster College of Art and Design in Belfast, however his encounter with the works of Lucie Rie as a young student altered his course and he resolved to devote himself to ceramics. Upon graduating, he took post at the Kilkenny Design Workshops, before establishing his first working studio in County Armagh. Upon relocation to Cornwall, where the artist still lives and works, Doherty acted as the first Lead Potter and Creative Director at the prestigious Leach Pottery, St Ives. With works enshrined in museum collections of both national and international significance, Doherty’s professional experience has also seen a prolific engagement in raising the profile of contemporary ceramics, as a fellow of the Craft Potters Association of Great Britain and a founding member of the organising committee at Ceramic Art London. The recipient of many awards, in 2020 he was shortlisted for the prestigious Loewe Craft Prize.
Doherty’s fascination with prehistoric ceramics is revealed through the form of the vessels themselves, whose archetypal shapes have their roots in a universal history. Alongside explorations of form, Doherty’s signature soda-firing technique creates chemical reactions that radically alter each of the vessels’ surfaces uniquely. Doherty has often referred to his works as ‘survivors’. Their relatively savage entry into the world is never without risks. The bodies, in layering these signs and markings of the extreme atmosphere within, also call to mind a more personal history; speaking strongly of his familial maritime past, and his bloodline connections to a very human, elemental survival which underpins much of his practice.