Anne Turner

Anne Turner
Anne Turner
Have your say

ANNE Turner, who turned her artistic talents into a second career to become a noted potter following her early retirement from teaching, has died at the age of 63.

She set up her own studio at her home in Leeds, creating the work which saw her become a highly-regarded ceramic artist who exhibited extensively across the North of England.

Anne Jennifer Humphreys was born in Watford, the eldest of three children of Colin Humphreys who worked as an administrator for the Central Electricity Generating Board, and his wife May.

She grew up in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, and was educated at Watford Grammar School for Girls and Leicester University, where she gained a combined honours degree in Latin, French and sociology before moving to Cambridge to study for a postgraduate diploma in education.

Following her marriage in 1971 to Anthony Turner they went to Milan a year later, where she taught English as a foreign language, until they returned to England in 1973 when he took a post at Leeds University. They separated in 1997 and were divorced in 2003.

She taught for 14 years from 1974 at West Leeds Boys’ High School in Armley, where she eventually became head of humanities. After a period of illness she worked for a short time at Merlyn Rees High School, Belle Isle, as head of history and later as a special needs assistant and then part-time teacher at a special needs school, Stonegate Secondary School. But in February 2000 she was forced to retire from teaching through ill health.

She had always been interested in art and had a natural talent for it, and it was then that she decided to take up pottery seriously. From 2002 to 2013, she trained at Harrogate College of Art and Design, gaining distinctions in the national diploma for design crafts in 2003 and in her foundation degree which she completed in 2006.

She worked mainly in ceramics especially Raku, the Japanese stoneware and became known particularly for her use of the technique of putting horse hair on her pots which became her signature work. She also developed a number of glazes.

She summed up her work not long before she died when she wrote: “I became involved with ceramics through evening classes in the 1980s. When I retired from teaching I decided to take up ceramics full-time. I have been influenced by travel to the Far East, North Africa and Scandinavia.

“My recent work has followed two main paths: I have explored Saggar firing where I have attempted to recreate the colours of rocks, sunsets and the spices of Morocco. In contrast I have recently experimented with print on ceramics, following natural and Scandinavian themes.” 

She was known as a very compassionate person, with radical views. Away from her pottery she was a keen gardener and very fond of animals, taking in a series of rescue cats.

She was also a keen traveller especially to Italy, where she was a regular visitor and fluent in the language.

Some of her noted exhibitions between 2010 and 2012 were with the Northern Potters at Rufford, in Nottinghamshire, and in Oldham, and also in Ilkley, Harrogate, Leeds, Lancaster and The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle, the UK’s largest independent contemporary art gallery. She also supported Harrogate College by exhibiting at the spa resort’s international trade fair.

Anne Turner is survived by her mother, her sister Gillian and brother Tony.