My old friend, Tony Clennell, once told me that writing a blog was like having a horse: you had to feed it every day. Well, those of you who regularly check back for news will know clearly that my horse must have died. It has been a while since I sat down to write and there is lots of news. So news first and research/writing/ceramics next! This summer is set for two significant events. The first is my artist residence at the Contemporary Arts Centre in La Borne, France. I am so excited to be working in their studios and firing their Phoenix Fast Fire Kiln. Also, I will be meeting the women who will be using the anagama kiln, and there will be a symposium dealing with the challenges of being a woman and wood firing. All ages will be present. It is going to be quite fun! I will also be giving two workshops and getting to use that fabulous soft La Borne clay. Shortly after, on August 31, I will officially retire from teaching for the School of Art at the University of Manitoba. No tears. It has been great fun, but it is time to live – and to be able to take advantage of those ticket sales to beautiful places that have been ignored. So mark your calendars and have a drink of some kind – juice or adult beverage – in celebration with me!
Now, to get to one of those projects that will fast become the top of my to-do-list shortly again. For those who have been reading this blog or who know me, I continue to try to find all of those men and women who came to Canada during the Vietnam era who were potters. In 2016, I received a Chalmers Grant for Craft from the Canada Council to begin this project. To date, I have 119 individuals who have contributed much to the ceramic landscape in Canada. Some have won the highest awards our country could offer. Many taught, and all made ceramics. But today, I am reaching out for help on one single individual. Her name is Carol Graham, and Doug and Verona Bridges saw my call for information on Carol and wrote to me. Doug taught at Malaspina College with Carol and Verona, and Carol travelled to Taos and Santa Fe where they visited Blue Corn and convinced her to come to Nanaimo. Doug and Verona also have an extensive collection of Carol’s high fire functional domestic ware. The minute I saw the images, I was drawn back to the 1970s when everyone was using iron-rich clay and muted glazes in their high fire kilns. Many were also, like Carol, using stamps on their work. Gosh, that was a great time to be a potter! One of my favourites in their collection is a dillweed plate meant to hang on the wall. I can almost feel Carol slowly and steadily pushing the dill into the clay.
The only other information that I have on Carol Graham is that she received her MFA from Puget Sound and in 1983 she lived in Cobble Hill, BC before she died. If you have any recollection of Carol Graham or own her work, please contact me. My plan is to finish the book on the women who came to Canada during the Vietnam era and who were potters.