Dr Mary Ann Steggles is a Canadian writer and researcher. She recently retired from her position as Professor at the University of Manitoba to pursue full time research and writing. She currently lives on the Canadian Prairies. Dr Steggles first and close up encounter with a Sharp-shinned Hawk in her garden sealed her love for birds of prey. She readily admits that turning outward to things with feathers than fly and the environmental impact humans have on these beautiful creates ultimately led her to Ospreys. She is obsessed with them. Dr Steggles most recent research is a long term study of the survivability of third hatch Ospreys and how our changing climate contributes to evolutionary changes in Ospreys such as breeding sites and migratory routes. As you will see, Dr Steggles interests have moved from the politics of art to art and the impact of the environment. It was the latter focus that resulted in her pursuing further research on raptors. She is a member of the Raptor Research Foundation and the Manitoba Naturalists Society.
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 were published in 2021 including a chapter in On the Other Side of 150, edited by Moran and Henzi (chapter 11) and “Imaging the Climate Crisis. The Ceramic Art of Horie, Galloway, Snider, and Rhymer-Zwierciadlowska” in E-REA Special Issue, University of Nantes, edited by S. Nail. Her research on mega-dams is being published by Routledge UK.
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.
For relaxation, Dr Steggles works on her potters wheel. The small feather and egg vases that she is creating commemorate a number of issues within the raptor world. She is working on a series of 500 of these vases to commemorate the chicks hat died during the recent heat wave. The proceeds from their sale will be divided amongst several wildlife rehab clinics. Stay tuned. They will be ready as holiday gifts in 2021.