Carol Graham, continued

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.

It’s March 6, 2020, and I am searching for more information on Carol Graham who once taught at Malaspina College on Vancouver Island

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.

Unknown-3

CarolGraham garlic and spice containers