Clem on record
The 1983 book covering the L.J.Harvey Exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery lists his students, but fails to list Clem Ainslie.
How did this happen? She was a very talented student, and indeed Harvey offered her a job as a student teacher herself, according to her daughter. Mrs Thomson feels it was the family moving away that didn’t allow the follow-up required to identify her and her work.
An important obstacle in the way of preserving her name for posterity is her name, and her mark: while she was Isabella Clementina Ainslie, she discarded the Isabella, and was known as ‘Clem’. She signed her pieces with the monogram CA. Interpreting this as CA or AC, there is no connection with the ‘I’ for Isabella. This simple technicality is probably responsible for the overlooking of this talented lady potter of the Harvey School: any records did not match her name.
Her talents are without doubt, both expressed through the surviving works recorded in these pages, and also in the awards she won on exhibiting in Brisbane’s National Shows. In 1927, for example, Brisbane held a major event, titled ‘The Royal National Exhibition’. Producers & artists from all around Australia submitted their best works. Here, she is listed as winning three awards for pottery: a 1st for ‘hand-built vessel hand glazed’; 2nd for ‘original bowl’; and 2nd for ‘vessel with modelled ornament + glazed’.