Jan was born in Broken Hill NSW in 1953 and moved with her family to a small scale farm in country South Australia in 1959. After a year in Adelaide in 1963/64, she moved with her family to Esperance on the south coast of Western Australia. She attended senior high school in Perth and then obtained a Bachelor of Architecture from the Western Australian Institute of Technology, (WAIT).

Two decades as a practising architect saw Jan working in diverse places across Australia including Perth, Canberra, Esperance and Kalgoorlie. During this time she worked on a variety of projects, the highlights being the restoration of His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth, the Queen’s Park Theatre, Geraldton, the New Parliament House, Canberra and the refurbishment of the Weld Club, Perth.

Although art had been a part of her life since childhood, painting, drawing, print making and clothing design, it wasn’t until a visit to the USA in 1981, that the desire to become more intimately involved was entertained. Her return to Esperance in 1982 was to be the beginning of increasing her involvement in the arts and determining what areas to concentrate on and a chance meeting with her future husband at an art class in 1983 became a pivotal point in her career. In 1984 Jan moved to Kalgoorlie and while practising as the only resident architect, revived her interest in ceramics.

In late 1988 Jan and her husband moved to “Coochimore”, their 2 hectare property in the Swan Valley, on the outskirts of Perth. A large shed on the property became the studio and provided the opportunity for Jan to make pots and assist her husband with some of his projects. Peaceful and picturesque, the property is a rural oasis despite being so close to the city, and has provided much inspiration and many references for Jan’s work.

Jan continued to work as an architect until the early 90’s when another economic downturn and stagnation of the building industry in Western Australia provided the impetus for Jan to spend more time in the studio than at the drawing board and by the mid 1990’s she was making her own work and commenced exhibiting in the late 90’s. Since then she has been involved in many group exhibitions in Western Australia and the eastern states.

The establishment of Zeckwerkz in 2000 gave Jan the opportunity to expand her horizons and utilise many of the skills and expertise she had developed and honed as an architect along with those obtained through her artistic pursuits. Although she undertakes the management and much of the technical sides of Zeckwerkz she also works closely with Garry in the initial design phases of projects, often spring boarding ideas to achieve outcomes neither would obtain individually. Skills learnt as a textile printer and her talent to develop repeat patterns have extended the virtuosity of Zeckwerkz into not only the creation of large printed ceramic panels but also decorative perforated metal work pieces.

Being a lateral thinker, Jan realised that some of the design motifs developed for Zeckwerkz projects also had the ability to cross over into other media and product. Jan makes a small range of ceramics utilising selected Zeckwerkz motifs and in 2008 she launched a range of pewter jewellery based on native floral motifs which also include some of these designs.

Jan is a keen gardener and although it has taken her twenty years to learn to garden in sand she has become proficient enough to manage a small orchard, preserving much of the fruit produced, and a vegetable garden that provides fruit and vegetables for the household table.  Her interest in gardening is not constrained to food production, but provides the reference to many of her decorative motifs discovered in both the landscape and garden books that occupy her bedside table. Native flora rank highly on her interest list, she is intrigued with the shapes and colours of these indigenous species and feels they provide the most effective means of producing work that is unmistakably Australian.    

For Jan, being an Australian is an important issue. During her time of studying architecture the question of the existence of an Australian style arose continuously, even to the point of asking if there was such a thing, and identifying ‘Australian’ characteristics was an essential part of the design analysis.

Her time working on the New Parliament House in Canberra made her aware of not only our democratic system, but how important it is to make that system work effectively. Jan served as a local councillor in the early 90s, believing that if you want a good community you need to contribute to it and that we all have a responsibility to play our part in making this happen.

Today, that responsibility has evolved into a personal and business approach that she believes builds strong communities. She is an ardent supporter of Western Australia, the land, the occupants and our future. Her products are manufactured locally and supporting local businesses and local communities is an essential part of her ethos.

Photo courtesy Carol Seidel

© Copyright - Sue Warrington | Zeckwerkz 2012