A ceramic artist for more than fifty years, Les’ very personal forms focus on the interpretation of two of the dominant landscapes in Alberta; the prairies and the Rockies. His wheel thrown and altered forms capture the abstract qualities of these sculptural environments and have been exhibited and collected in Asia, Europe, Egypt, USA, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
In addition to his long career as a maker, Les had had a profound impact within the field of ceramics as a mentor and administrator. On almost every continent you can find an artist whose practice has been directly influenced by Les’s gentle guidance. As the former Director of Ceramics at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Les influenced a generation of artists who have gone on to advance the field through exhibition, education and advocacy.
He has been active in the international ceramic community through exhibiting, teaching, and volunteer development work for over 40 years and continues to mentor artists in the Medalta International Artists in Residence Program. Les came to Medalta as a volunteer Artistic Director eighteen years ago. The first of many artists who moved to Medicine Hat over the years. Les volunteered his time and his extensive expertise to grow the Medalta International Artist in Residence Program into a destination for artists from all over the world. He contributed to the design of the Shaw International Centre for Contemporary Ceramics and continues to be an active donor and supporter of Medalta. Though Les is no longer a resident artist at Medalta and now lives in Calgary, Alberta, his contributions have been integral to the development of the engaged and vital organization that Medalta is today.
In 2012, Les Manning received the Order of Canada for his impressive body of work in advancing the arts in Canada. In the same year Les received the Diamond Jubilee medal that honours significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.
Les Manning passed away peacefully on February 20, 2020.