It is quite amazing what can happen in the span of a month. Canada is now in the grips of COVID-19, anxious students of all ages are trying to finish their classes online, and, unless we are essential, we are to stay home. That staying home has really helped in the search for information on Carol Graham (see March 6 blog entry). News has come from the talented pit firing ceramist, Susan Delatour in Princeton, BC. Perhaps some of Susan’s information will help jog the memories of others so that a full entry for Carol can be made in my book.
Susan lived with her ex-husband, Steve LePoidevin. They had a home and studio at Shawinigan Lake in 1980. That is where she met Carol Graham who lived in Cobble Hill, the next village. Because of their mutual interest in ceramics, they became friends. Susan remembers the five-day workshop that Carol organized with Blue Corn that summer:
BLUE CORN (with her daughter, HESHI FLOWER) in a beautiful rural setting Mill Bay, ‘Vancouver Island, July 28th to Aug. 1, 1980, 8 am-4 pm each day. This is a workshop organized privately. Blue Corn, a world-famous Indian Pueblo potter from San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico, will guild students in every step to recreating her famous polychrome pottery as well as San Ildephonso’s black pottery–from mixing clay Blue Corn brings from New Mexico–to painting natural earthy pigments with Yucca brushes–to firing (in two separate firings) in an authentic manner with cow and horse dung. Limited enrollment. we have 14 students and can accommodate 4 more. $200 for five full days with lunches provided. Because of limited enrollment and slowness of mail please phone the following for more information, Carol Graham (Mill Bay 743-5182 anytime) or Verona Bridges (Nanai- mo).
Susan remembers Carol’s high fired reduction functional ware because of its beauty. She also recalls that Carol’s first husband passed away after a battle with cancer sometime in the 1980s. After that, Carol had her own health issues including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that sadly caused her to stop making ceramics.
Carol, it seems, had to be busy and she turned towards her interest in gardens writing a book with Dorothy Field called Between Gardens when she could no longer work with clay. Susan Delatour says it began with a series of letters written between Dorothy Field and Carol Graham Chudley (Ron Chudley, fourth husband, devoted caregiver over a period of three years starting in 1995). They were musings on gardening as well as practical tips. Susan notes that the volume also became about living with a debilitating disability. Carol died in May 1998 before the book could be published in 1999 in honour of their friendship.
If you or someone you know might be able to continue filling in the gaps for Carol Graham, I would be ever so grateful. And if you happen to have photographs of the workshop with Blue Corn and don’t mind if I use them, please take a good crisp photo with your phone or camera.