As an artist/craftsperson working in clay, the foundations on which I create my art are historically based. The use of clay has been an integral part of the human experience for thousands of years, on the one hand fulfilling utilitarian needs of food storage and preparation, on the other, for ceremonial purposes and artistic expression. In our current culture, there are many alternatives to clay for utilitarian purposes. I believe that the purpose of the artist and craftsperson in this time of mass-produced products is to act as a counterbalance, bringing back a sense of ceremony and humanity to daily life.
I strive to make pottery that is technically and functionally sound, combines historical context with personal contemporary expression and provides the user/observer pleasure and beauty in everyday life.
The seasonally diverse environment that surrounds my rural studio influences the forms and surfaces of my work. I do not attempt to replicate nature, rather to evoke the essence of it. Just as in nature where no two leaves or flowers are the same shape or colour, each piece of my pottery needs to retain the markings of the maker and the variations and nuances of the Soda Firing, making each piece unique.
I generally work in series of six to 20 pieces. Starting with a new concept or variation of a previous theme, I make changes in proportions and decorative elements within the series. This process allows for endless possibilities to push the boundaries of function and artistic expression. Successful pots become jumping-off points for new series of work, and so the cycle continues.
Most of my pots combine a variety of forming techniques such as wheel throwing, altering, extruding and slab building. Of utmost concern is strength and simplicity of form while allowing the handcraft processes to show through. Surface decoration can incorporate brushwork, slip pouring and trailing, scrafitto and resist but is kept to a minimum to allow the clay, slips and ash-based glazes to be transformed in the Soda Vapour Kiln. When all is right in this potter’s world the movement of flame and vapour within the kiln animate the surfaces and breathe life into these ceramics objects.
Soda glazing is achieved by introducing a mixture of sodium and water into the 1200 degree Celsius kiln where it vapourizes. The vapours and flames flow over and around the pottery, much like water over stones, enhancing the surfaces with flashes of colour and texture.
EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE
Growing up in the rural farming area of southern Ontario I spent my youth in the outdoors, exploring the fields, streams, forests, barns and creatures there. As a very young kid, I spent many hours as my grandmother’s helper with her daily cooking of meals and baking bread, pies and cookies. Those experiences certainly have influenced my pottery designs and decorations as well as how the pots look and function with food.
My first contact with clay as an art medium was in high school art classes. In the mid 70s, I went on to Sault College and studied Studio Arts, with majors in Pottery and Printmaking, followed by a one-year Pottery intensive at Georgian College.
Since that time I have continued my education through numerous workshops with potters Michael Sheba, Jane Hamlyn, Ron Roy, Tony and Sheila Clennel, Julia Galloway, Suze Lindsay, Don Rietz and Mackenzie Smith, to name a few.
When travelling in Canada and the U.S. as well as Mexico, Africa and Japan I search out museums, galleries and potters. These journeys feed my need to keep learning and developing my aesthetic.
Much is learned by doing. Building my own house and studio, several kilns and other pottery equipment provides useful experience. Presenting workshops pushes me to think critically about how and why I make the pots I do.