In 2019, I was awarded a Canada Council for the Arts – Arts Abroad Project Grant for a six week residency at the Shigaraki Cultural Park, in Japan. The residency was about research and creation around figurative roof tiles in Japan. My intention was to expand my exploration of roof tile as an interactive platform for figurative work.
Over a year ago,in 2017, Donna Hagerman, John David Lawrence, Jeannie Mah and I met to talk about retrieving some of the late Bill Rennie’s papers and images to create an artist profile and a record of Bill’s exceptional, but mostly unrecognized accomplishments. Terry has scanned Bill’s papers and slides, and Donna will photograph Bill’s work When we have accumulated enough material, I will write about him, as I did for Thomas Kakinuma.
In February 2018 I retrieved an archive of papers, images, magazines and newsletters about ceramics in BC, from the office of the Gallery of BC Ceramics. Magazines and newsletters were deposited in the Special Books and Rare Collections of the UBC Archives, and 13 boxes of other archival papers were stored in the Craft Council of BC Archives in June. The Gallery was forced to shut its doors in March 2018 – a very sad event.
A volunteer student started work at the Craft Council of BC, on the Registry of BC Ceramic Marks, BCCMR, in the summer of 2018. I have been collecting the marks since 2005 and delighted to see some progress on this.
2018 opened with an exhibition of Thomas Kakinuma’s work at the West Vancouver Museum. Interest in Kakinuma increased after the publication of my essay about him on the Studio Ceramics Canada Website in 2016…the whole event happened so quickly. I was able to meet up with Mrs Kakinuma and her daughter in November and after finding out so many new facts about Kakinuma, I felt I had to rewrite some of the original essay, and Darrin Morrison of the West Van Museum asked me to write for the catalogue.
I was also heading off to teach once again at the Leach Pottery in March, and felt that enough new information had come my way about the Leach Ridge tiles, that I should revise that publication as well. Phyllis Schwartz helped me to produce the poster about the ridge tiles for the Restated Clay Conference in York, UK, also in March. It was a wonderful, thoughtful conference.
Upon return from the UK I coordinated the fundraiser in May – From Oven and Kiln for the North-West Ceramics Foundation. It was our most successful to date!
I finally was able to concentrate on my residency at MOA . I am working there 2 or 3 days a week – to study and work on embellishment ideas. I have until Feb 2019. It is fascinating to be in the MOA so frequently and to walk around the collections. I will remain in town until Mary and I head off to Shigaraki in Feb 2019.
In January 2017, Mary and I left for the ICS in Hungary for our 3rd residency. Later in 2017 I returned to St Ives to teach a sculpture class. Our eldest son was married in Sept 2017.
Mary and I have both been accepted for a residency in Shigaraki, Japan in February 2019, and have also been invited to a collaborative residency at the ICS in Hungary in October 2019., called Muscle Memory. Five other Canadians, a couple of Hungarians, and some Turkish artists will all participate. I am really looking forward to that.
Ceramic Arts and Perception published the Horse and Rider article in #106, that came out in December 2017. I will also be teaching at MISSA on Vancouver Island. Our second son, Maxwell, was married in June, another wonderful event.
The underpinning theme for 2018 will be my residency, just accepted, at MOA, the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, where throughout 2018, I will spend time studying the Koerner collection and the other ceramics in the collection. Looking at two things, surface decoration of the Anabaptist work, and at the nature of the overall collection at MOA – as the collection been donated through immigration.
IN 2017 in Hungary, our first week we studied mould making with master mould maker, Gabriella Kuzsel, in a small village near Oriszentpeter in western Hungary. After a week in snow and ice with Gabi and Steve Mattison, we travelled onto Budapest- ice on the Danube – and then onto the ICS. I hoped to work with Zsolnay materials for making coloured ridge tiles, but the factory has stopped production of these specialized clays. I ended up working with antique Hungarian roof tiles that were located by Jakab Kis, one of the technicians at the ICS.
Glenn Lewis – one of the 2017 GG Award recipients [congrats Glenn!!) Phyllis Schwartz and I published the Second Edition of Seeking the Nuance, and it was launched it in March 2017.
Finally after 3 years the final draft of UP On the Roof Bernard Leach and the Tradition of Equestrian Tiles, written with Peter Smith, was published in book form JUST before I left for St Ives in 2017. [Thank you to the NWCF for their publishing grant!] I taught the first sculptural class ever held at the Leach in June 2017 – Keeping Up the Tradition. Later I presented a talk at the Tate St Ives about Peter’s and my research.
The Mansfield’s – new editors of Ceramics Craft and Perception – will be publishing a version of the Up on the Roof book in the October 2017 #106.
In September, Joe Laughlin and Heather Dotto, of Joe Ink Dance Co came to my studio to make a video , “Dance Craft Interpretations and Connections” organized by the Craft Council of BC, and presented at the 2017 Canadian Craft Biennial in Ontario. An experience about the connections that exist between all forms of the arts. In the case of dance and ceramics, both relate to the body – terms often used for pottery – clay body, belly, foot, lip, shoulders. Good pots express captured movement. Both dance and ceramics relay narrative. And of course the radical differences – the fleeting experience of dance, and the permanence of clay – even as shards. It was extraordinary to watch a dancer move, with contained power, inside the confines of my studio.
Two family marriages, my nephew, James, and my eldest son, Jasper. Great events.
and then we will apply for Shigaraki residency in 2018…we’ll see if we are successful…?
SOFA Chicago 2017
2016 opened with the news that one of my pieces in the Ceramart Collection in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, was selected for an exhibit, “Inner Connections” in Bucharest.
Barry Morrison of Studio Ceramics Canada invited me as a guest writer, to write about Thomas Kakinuma. It was published in July 2016 https://studioceramicscanada.com
The interminable article “Bernard Leach’s Equestrian Roof Tiles and Their Location in the West Country.” [What a title!!] co-written with Pwter Smith, was published in FUSION in 2016, though there are errors in some of the labelling which have not been corrected. It is an online version only.
It was lovely to see everyone at the Leach in the fall of 2015, and spend time with Alex Lambley – she is still working on the final drafts of her PHD on the BC Leach apprentices. Yeah!
The Leach Pottery never stops giving….John Bedding has just let me know that the potters at the Leach wanted one of my equestrian sculptures as the MOJO, or kiln god, to ride on top of their new gas kiln. Now responsibility for the good, the bad and the ugly will be passed onto my Horseman.
2016 ended with the marriage of my lovely daughter.
In November 2015, the CCBC nominated me to the Mayor’s Arts Awards, [City of Vancouver] as the 2015 Honouree for Craft and Design. In turn, I was asked to nominate an emerging artist, and was delighted to nominate Samantha Knopp, an inventive and highly skilled ceramicist, and active volunteer. My son, Jasper Sloan Yip, accepted the award on my behalf, as I was in Rome at C.R.E.T.A., for a six week residency with my travel buddy, Mary Daniel.>a https://vancouver.ca/people-programs/mayors-arts-awards.aspx
Earlier I was the recipient of the ‘Hilde Gerson Award’ by the Craft Council of BC. Mary Daniel nominated me. Thank you Mary. Hilde Gerson, herself a fine weaver, was an exemplary craftsperson and volunteer for the the Crafts Association of BC. she and I became good friends during the early 80s, when Gail Rogers was the Executive Director, and we were all fundraising to move the CABC to Granville Island. The CABC became the Craft Council of BC in the 2000s.
Mary and I attended a 6-week residency at C.R.E.T.A. in Rome, September to November 2015. We shared the space with Irish American sculptor, Nuala Creed. Thank you to our generous and knowledgable hosts, Lori-Ann Touchette and Paolo Porelli,….[they are currently at Kansa City at the Red Star Studio, for their own residency]…We had a grand time with Nuala! and we are still shaking our heads….were we really in the Eternal City???
Debra would like to thank KENJI NAGI and GORAN BASARIC and TED CLARKE of ‘Image This Photographics Inc’, for their beautiful images, and DR. MATT TYAS for his photography of St Ives work and the traditional horse and rider tiles.
Debra Sloan is married to Terry Yip, with four children – all Sloan Yips – Isabel Evelyn [1985 ] Jasper Vandervoort  Maxwell Alexander  and Cooper Sills .