Dr Mary Ann Steggles is a Canadian writer and maker. She currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
She received her PhD as a Commonwealth Scholar from Leicester University where she studied with Dr Alison Yarrington. The focus of Dr Steggles’s research was the exporting of public statuary to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Her desire to establish whether or not there had been an iconoclasm towards these icons of British rule meant that she had to first establish the provenance of all statues shipped to the region. Dr Steggles established that no fewer than 170 public statues were exported to glorify British heroes and administrators. These did not include busts, funerary monuments, or garden ornaments. Her research on the public statues was first published in Statues of the Raj (2001) and in British Statues Exported to India. New Views. Old Memories co-authored with Richard Barnes (2012). Individual articles and book chapters have appeared in Marg, History Today, Chowkidar, The Sculpture Journal, The Dictionary of National Biography, The Guinness Dictionary of British Sculptors, The Journal of Victorian Studies, The Encyclopedia of Sculpture and Sculpting Art History : Essays in Memory of Benedict Read. Dr Steggles has lectured internationally on the role and iconoclasm of public monuments. She recently delivered a paper on the relationship of the British statues in India to the Black Lives Matter Movement in a Zoom webinar, Toppling Statues, sponsored by The Burlington Magazine and the newly formed, Public Statues and Sculpture Society.
Dr Steggles’s interests go beyond the role of public art and politics. Prior to reading for her PhD, she ran a thriving pottery in Graysville, Manitoba. There she created domestic ware that was fired in a salt kiln as well as raku. Each of those reflected the two streams of her ceramics education; she had studied functional ware with John Reeve, an apprentice of Bernard Leach, at the Sheridan College of Design when it was located in Missassagua, Ontario. Later she studied raku and low fire soda techniques with Paul Soldner at his home and studio in Aspen, Colorado. From the period of 1977-1989, she was one of the participants in the Manitoba Arts Council’s Artist in the School Programme. At the same time, she was the Artist in Residence for the Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage, and Recreation (Central Region). Her ceramics were exhibited in Canada, the United States, and Singapore. She was one of the original founders of the Manitoba Craft Council in 1974 along with glassblower Ione Thorkelsson, ceramists Kirk Creed and Duane Perkins, and fibre artist, Marilyn Floubert. In 2010, Dr Steggles delivered two lectures at the First European Woodfiring Conference in Brollin, Germany. In 2014, she discussed the history of Canadian woodfiring at the Second Woodfiring Conference in Skaelskor, Denmark. Four years later, in 2018, she discussed the hardships that many women face when taking on wood firing. Dr Steggles has written extensively on contemporary Canadian ceramics. This work appears in Ceramics: Art and Perception, Ceramics Technical, Studio Potter, Ceramics Monthly, The Log Book, Neue Keramik, and Toplerflat. Her interest in ceramics includes the impact that the medium has on the environment and the contribution that Vietnam resisters immigrating to Canada had on the ceramic landscape of the country. Dr Steggles received a Canada Council Jean A. Chalmers Craft Grant to assist her in the early research for this project in 2015. Extensive book chapters on these topics are currently in press. She is working on a manuscript on the Vietnam resisters and their influence on the development of Canadian ceramics. Dr Steggles’s recently facilitated a Zoom discussion group on the impact of Manitoba Hydro’s mega-dams in Northern Manitoba and the question of hydroelectricity being green energy to fire kilns. She is currently a contributing writer for the Wales Arts Review focusing on the visual arts and the environment.
As a faculty member at both Acadia University and the School of Art, University of Manitoba, Dr Steggles was responsible for designing seven on line academic courses. As part of this, she co-authored The Traditional and Religious Arts of Asia with Dr Cristofre Martin, Grenada, West Indies as a textbook for the introductory survey of Asian art courses. That text is currently being revised for its second edition.
Dr Steggles recently retired from her position of Professor at the School of Art, University of Manitoba to pursue full time writing and creating. Prior to taking up her post in Manitoba where she taught art history and ceramics and was the Associate Director of the School for seven years, she taught at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec. In 2006, she won the Olive Beatrice Stanton Award for Teaching Excellence at the University of Manitoba.