You know those days when you feel like you should buy a lottery ticket? Today feels like that for me. I want to share some upcoming events that are so ‘hot’ they don’t have confirmed dates yet.

The first is news of a really big event.  The last two weeks of June, Master Potter Markus Boehm from Germany will be with us.  For years I have been advocating for a wood kiln that was for the students, one that could be fired by a single person achieving the level of ash that would put a smile on your face without using so much wood and without having to be fired for 46 hours.  Well, we are going to build it!  A state of the art smokeless Bourry Box kiln that will reach cone 14 in 14 hours using only two cubic metres of hardwood logs.  Honestly, you can knit a sweater while firing this kiln.  Good for one person, great for a group, too.   I will be putting out the call for 10 workshop participants.    It will be 10 days and will include a firing.  I need individuals who are keen to learn how to put German engineering into wood kiln design and who are not afraid of long days, sweating, learning a heck of a lot, and walking away with some nice wood fired pieces.  Final dates and workshop costs will be forthcoming.

Bob Archambeau has been with the School of Art for 50 Years.  In the late fall, the School of Art Gallery at the University of Manitoba will be holding a retrospective of Archambeau and his work.  I will be curating this special exhibition and will be looking for work of Bob’s dating from 1968 to 2008 as well as historic photographs and great stories about Bob as a teacher and potter to go into the catalogue.  Stay tuned as Paul Hess and I work towards finalizing dates.

Ceramics Club at the University of Manitoba will be holding their spring sale in mid-April.  Watch this site for dates and times.

And two articles of mine were published.  One features Joo Young Han (Grace Han), Onnghi Master and recent MFA graduate from the School and is in the latest edition of New Ceramics (Neue Keramik) and Markus Boehm:  East German Master Potter Adapts to Changes since the fall of the wall in Ceramics:  Art and Perception.  Also, Grace Han will be featured on a short documentary by the CBC.  I will try to get the dates and times it will be shown.  Congratulations Grace!

 

Annual Ceramics Sale in Yamashina

If you are thinking about being in Japan – in or near Kyoto – during the third weekend of October, seriously consider going to the annual ceramics sale that takes place in Yamashina.

The kilns used to be up Dojo-dori along the mountain.  You will know this if you have stepped into Kawaii Kanjiro’s house and studio near Kiyomizu-dera.  But the smoke sent the big kilns out into the countryside, not far, in Yamashina.  The third weekend of October every year has hundreds of shops and stalls open to the public.  Free transportation is provided.  Just ask at the JR Station on how to find it.  You can wander for an entire day.  If you plan to buy, take some strong tote bags with you and an extra suitcase!  Leave the suitcase in your hotel.  There are food stalls and places to even make a pot if you desire.

The work is excellent and much is reasonably priced.  This is why I mention the extra suitcase.  You might also want to consider bubble wrap.  Take a small piece and go into the nearest office supply or yen store and show them the sample.  They will come running back with a roll.  Remember packing tape.  Wrap so you can toss it like a baseball, insert into the luggage so it can’t roll around or bag against something else and there you have it – the beginning of your obsession to be there every year!  I should mention that if you are lucky, it is also leaf changing season.  There is no better place to be!

 

 

Can you? or someone you know help me locate these potters (former potters?)? I do not know if they fit my research profile but they were Americans working in clay during the era.

I am trying to find word of the following individuals.  They were Americans who came to Canada.  I have not been able to locate them so any assistance would help.  Please ask them to contact me at my university address.  It is:  maryann.steggles@umanitoba.ca They are:

Bonita Collins.  She gave pottery classes in Toronto and might be able to connect me with some who came up.  Known also as Bonita Bocanegra Collins.  Someone thinks she might be in southern Ontario being a food designer?

Lee Danish.  Was in New Brunswick.

Mardi Demain.  Also in New Brunswick at one time.  Rumours are he went to work on a math project with his won at either Yale or Harvard.

Leah Errington.  In 1983 was running Great CDN Design Works in North Vancouver.  Supplied slip products along with the late Jim Meadows.

Ludmina Evans

Carol Graham.  Deceased.   Got her MFA from Puget Sound.  Taught at Malaspina.  In 1983 was living in Cobble Hill, BC.  Can anyone tell me about her work and provide images?

Rick Hanbury.  Deceased.  Had a studio in Nelson.  Can anyone tell me about his work and provide some historical images?

Desi Kantrum.  In 1983 was part of the Arrow Lakes Pottery group.

Jane Schlossberg

Pete Scott.  Pete is remembered by lots of folks including Byron Johnstad and Roger Painter.  Part of the Vancouver scene.  Returned to the US.  We believe he is working in the mountains and selling work in the Pacific Northwest.  Any images, news, etc. would be most welcome.

Norman White.  In 1983 was in Slocan Park, BC.  Deceased???  Anyone know of Norman and his work?

 

Carol and Richard Selfridge

Richard Selfridge arrived in Canada in 1969 to pursue a PhD in Political Science.  A native of Seattle Washington, he first studied at Washington State University leaving the United States just before completing his PhD dissertation in Political Philosophy.  Selfridge taught at the University of Alberta for four years.  He became a Canadian citizen in 1974.

Richard Selfridge never intended to become a potter.  But life has a way of throwing curve balls at each of us.  “Happy Accidents” was what Paul Soldner used to call them. In between his studies, Richard met Carol and his interest in ceramics began.   In 1973 he took his first pottery lessons with David Green, one of the individuals behind the formation and an instructor for the Edmonton Potters Guild.  These early classes were followed by specialized

studies at the Banff Center with Wayne Ngan, Walter Keeler, Tom Coleman and Janice Tchalenko, amongst others.  A year later Richard built his first electric kiln with a single chamber downdraft gas kiln quickly following in 1975.  He was hooked on clay!  Carol and Richard are both interested in clay, its form and its functionality.  At the same time, they are passionate about experimenting with different firing temperatures and glaze effects.  The couple built a two chamber cross draft gas and wood-fired salt chamber kiln in 1980 while continuing to fire their majolica in the electric kiln.  In 2001, they built a wood-fired coffin kiln.  Since 1974 their work has been a joyful collaboration.

The duo taught at the Student’s Union at the University of Alberta in the 1970s, later teaching for the Extension Division of the University of Alberta. Carol was a high school art teacher in Vancouver and Edmonton from 1969-74.   Her interest in the figure and drawing have been furthered by workshops at Red Deer College, The Banff Center, and the University of Alberta.  In addition to more than 250 international exhibitions, Richard and Carol have also taught workshops across Canada and internationally while still finding time to host two annual studio sales per year since 1974.  The pair received major grants from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Edmonton Arts Council. They are nothing short of prolific in their output and the generosity with which they share their knowledge of firing effects and glazing.  Their work was part of the prestigious Claridge Collection.

Robert ‘Bob’ Archambeau: Enriches the lives of those around him

Robert ‘Bob’ Archambeau (born 1933)  is one of Canada’s most renown ceramic artists.  When I asked him when he first fell in love with wood firing, he chuckled and said it was ” probably around the age of five when he made a fire that almost burnt the family garage down.” Bob graduated with an MFA degree in ceramics from Alfred SUNY in 1964.  For the next four years, he taught at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) before accepting a teaching position at the University of Manitoba where he teamed up with Charlie Scott solidifying a wood firing tradition (of vessels) that continues today.  Long before he was awarded the Governor-General’s Award for Excellence, those around him knew that his work was special as was his teaching.  Exceptional might be a better word.

Bob Archambeau has a deep respect for the art of Asia and the limited forms that he chooses to make are a reflection of this.  Note the word ‘chooses’.  There is nothing limiting about the vessels he creates despite the fact that he focuses on four or five vessel forms.  He says that he works on the same few shapes over and over again to improve his integrity as a maker while, at the same time, having deep respect for the traditions that inform those forms.

Anyone who has passed through the wheel throwing or hand building area of the Sculpture/Ceramics Building at the School of Art will be familiar with Bob.  He remains one of the best mentors that any of our students (and faculty) can have.  He is there working late through the night, on the weekends, and sometimes during the day.  When there are no classes being taught in the summer, he is one of a few that take over the clay area till the leaves begin to fall and students return in September.

Two or three years ago he had pieces drying – hundreds of them it seemed – spread across the tables in the hand building room.  At that moment, he was using leaves he had found on his walks as stencils for his plates.  He told me that he was making his granddaughter an entire set.  I was taken aback by this because, at the time, I believed his granddaughter to be 8 or 10.  What a remarkable gift to leave a child.

Twice a year, Bob heads to fire his work with Dan Anderson and his students in Illinois.  He has travelled around the world firing wood kilns with some of the leaders in the field.  On his retirement, his intent was to work in his studio in Bissett, Manitoba (about three hours northeast of Winnipeg).  He built a wood kiln in anticipation of the freedom he would have to work 24/7 if he chose.  Then there was a series of events that happened one of them being an entire ban on burning wood – despite the fact that one could argue that a kiln is an enclosed space.  Still, his dreams halted, Bob was quick to take a different path and it is the reason that he is at the School throwing with many students watching and learning.  In fact, Bob believes that students learn by “watching”.

Bob is also a collector.  Not only of leaves to use as stencils but anything handmade that catches his eye or objects of nature.  One day he had covered the two shelves of a trolley with shells.  He called me over saying, “Always look to nature for inspiration.”

One of Bob’s dearest friends was the late Takamori Akio. In 2015 Takamori was asked to provide a story (Bob loves stories) for a catalogue I was writing for an exhibition of vessels at the School of Art Gallery.  He wrote to me about Bob’s first visit to Japan.  Takamori said:  “Naturally, Bob was very visible in the small Japanese village when he visited me in Nagura, Japan.  He was a giant from Canada.  He would say that Japanese people might think that he was 100 years old because his hair and beard were turning white prematurely.  Bob wished he was invisible perhaps and he tried his best to become as small as he could like a ball of mercury.  He was so careful and acted like a gentle giant who tried not to irritate people around him.  So, Bob walked around very carefully with a shy smile on his face and if he had to talk, he whispered.  His effort worked very well.  Everybody liked him and nobody was intimidated by the stranger.  He did not bump his head or break things when he visited the small houses in the villages.  Bob could satisfy his insatiable curiosity by going to all the niches of the villages and finding small treasures for his eyes to see”.

Bob continues to be a gentle giant at the age of 84.  And those who are fortunate to see his passion for clay continue are truly blessed.

IMG_8358Bob Sandblasting a pot 1IMG_8268

Pamela Nagley-Stevenson

Pamela Nagley-Stevenson moved to Canada to study ceramics at the University of Victoria after living in Hawaii.  While she was a high school student at the Punahou Academy in Honolulu, she had the opportunity to study painting, art history and fine crafts.  When she was a grade 11 student, the Honolulu Academy of Arts hosted an exhibition of vessels by renowned Japanese artist, Toshiko Takaezu [She was born to Japanese parents living in Hawaii].  Nagley-Stevenson went to her artist talks and repeatedly visited the exhibition.  It seemed to draw the young student in like a magnet.  She said, “Her work opened my heart in ways that defy words, and set me on the life path to become a studio potter.”   Nagley-Stevenson thrived in Honolulu where students could take intensive summer courses in clay and in 1970, she enrolled full time as a ceramics student at the University of Hawaii.  There she studied with Claude Horan and Patrick Myers-while also taking a minor in Asian art history.

As a student in Hawaii, Nagley-Steven was active in protests against the Vietnam War.  She was part of the Hawaii High Schools Students for Peace and participated in the Peace March Campaigns and demonstrated to support Hawaiian Sovereignty, Native Land Rights, and the beginnings of the local environmental movement.  “Classmates were fleeing the States for Canada to avoid the draft, the Trudeau Government was seen as being enlightened for that time, and coming to Canada suited my values and life goal to live close to the land as an artist working with clay.”  In 1971, Nagley-Stevenson began her studies at the University of Victoria.  “I was eager for the opportunity to go to Canada in those end times of the Vietnam War.”  Unfortunately, on her arrival, the young student realized that the ceramic studios at the University of Victoria had closed.  She worked instead in the printmaking studios and spent two years in painting and sculpture while immersing herself in Islamic art.

She says, “I left school abruptly for love in 1974, to join my future husband at an artist’s coop in Vernon and begin life as a working potter.”  She put 500 lbs of clay, some glaze materials and a cone 8 electric kiln in the van and headed East.  The couple first lived in the rural Coldstream Valley.  Nagley-Stevenson says her early work was influenced by her knowledge of Asian art.  She “married” it with a crunchy granola aesthetic resulting in some functional ware with “whimsical details.”  The couple bought land in the Slocan Valley in 1976.  “Land in the Kootenays was pristine and affordable, with a lovely counter-culture community of mountain-loving back-to-the-land self-employed artists.  She was also able to teach at the Kootenay School of the Arts bringing in much-needed cash when sales were slow.  The couple planted gardens and orchards moving as quickly as they could to a more self-sustaining life, one in harmony with nature.  After the move, the young potter studied at the Banff Centre for the Arts taking workshops with Les Manning, Pete Voulkos, Mick Casson and Wayne Ngan amongst others.  For fifteen years she produced highly decorated landscape pots that helped pay the couple’s mortgage and feed their two children.  Nagley-Stevenson, like so many others, felt limited by what an electric kiln with its oxidation atmosphere could do and over the course of time, she moved to cone 10 porcelain fired in a wood kiln.  Her first kiln was 16 cubic feet (2000) and today she fires a two-chamber 73 cubic foot wood-soda kiln which was built in 2008.  Firing with wood was able to give Nagley-Stevenson a more natural look to the surface of the clay.  Today she sells her work at her own studio in Winlaw, BC (by appointment),  and at the gift shops and public galleries in Nelson and Castlegar as well as at special summer and holiday markets and tours.

Her work has been exhibited in Canada and the United States.

Betty Woodman dies at age 87

For those of you in my Advanced Throwing Class at the U of M, if you do not know Betty Woodman and her work, look her up!  I did not see this today so I am terribly grateful to Sally Michener for letting me know.

Betty Woodman really pushed ceramics into importance.  She was a clay sculptor who combined many styles, most with a feminist slant.  She has worked for the past six decades and her influence and inspiration resonates through generations of artists.  She will be missed.