MY STORYOur Grade Three class was shown “The Story of Peter and the Potter” [NFB 1953]. The film showcased potters, Erica and Kjeld Deichmann, who pioneered studio pottery in New Brunswick. The film followed them demonstrating the processes of throwing, glazing and firing a pot. As the story progressed I could see that this family of potters lived and worked seamlessly. Their lives made sense to me and the materials and processes were enticing.
When I was 16, I started taking pottery classes and I read “A Potter’s Book” by Bernard Leach. Leach’s philosophy reinforced the notion of an integrated personal and working life. From 1973 – 1979 I spent six years working in a self-directed apprenticeship as I ran a large pottery school, intentionally isolating myself from outside influences. In 1979 I enrolled in the Vancouver School of Art. At least one teacher stated that women should choose either a family or a career. It was an infuriating and typical statement of its time, challenging my resolve for an integrated life as witnessed and still fondly recollected in the little NFB film.
Just before I started working at the pottery school in 1973, I saw a small Joe Fafard clay figure in Toronto. I was entranced by its dynamic. It radiated with the personality of both the maker and the sitter. I continued to observe and be affected by the Canadian Funk scene – its inherent irony and explicit post modern irreverence. Since then, I have collected ceramics. I started when attending the wonderful openings at Hiro Urakami’s famed House of Ceramics [1972 – 79]. I am now surrounded by a ceramic ‘family’, the work of my colleagues in clay – a constant source of thought and visual pleasure. By 2005, it became apparent to me that we had not collected enough of our regional ceramic history in BC, nor did we know who many of the artists were, and are. Clay artists were anonymous. I began collecting artist marks, and histories, and am slowly working towards a BC Ceramic Mark Registry – the BCCMR. John Lawrence and Allan Collier, two other very knowledgable collectors, have been assisting me. This is a forever project, but one that will add provenance and value to our regional ceramics, I hope, and therefore provide additional context to my own.The ceramic practice is akin to living with an extended family, crowded by unruly characteristics and peopled by complex processes. The material [its characteristics] and my intention to create an integrated life, are connected with my drive – to be a maker [and that included making a family.] During the early and teenage years of my children, I snatched work hours during naps, school hours, and long nights, thanks to the tremendous support given to me by my husband, Terry, As it turned out both endeavours have responded to and transformed each other.