The Art of Woodfire: A Contemporary Practice

As I began to prepare for my talk on the marginalization of women within the wood fire community (or women ceramists in general) at LaBorne in a few weeks, I took the opportunity to do what was done earlier with art history survey texts:  I started to examine the inclusion of women in publications on the subject.

In 2011, Mansfield Press, owned by the late Janet Mansfield (herself an internationally respected woman who fired her work with wood), published Owen Rye’s The Art of Woodfire:  A Contemporary Practice.  The book has a statement from Rye on why he is so passionate about wood firing in addition to a discussion on the aesthetics, history, and materials and processes of this very physical method of working with clay.  There are pages devoted to individual artists alongside beautiful (and large) images of their work and kilns.  Most discuss their choice of wood firing over other methods or what inspires them.  My objective was a little different.

The book was written in response to to an exhibition which was held at the Front Room Gallery in Gulgong, NSW, eventually travelling to all of Australia in 2011.  But it is much more than a catalogue and the discussions could be applied to the concerns within the wood firing community internationally.  Rye included a discussion of the 24 artists within the exhibition.  Of these the women represented include the late Janet Mansfield, Sandy Lockwood, Barbara Campbell-Allen (including a large photo of her anagama kiln in Kurrajong, NSW opposite an image of a vase and a bottle), and Carol Rosser.  Mention was made of others including Gwyn Hanssen Pigott and Moraig McKenna whose lovely wood fire porcelain was featured in two photographs.

Would I like to see at least half of the attention go to women?  Absolutely.  But a gold star has to go out to Owen Rye.  Many of the other publications do not include a single woman.  Stay tuned!

Summer. Thinking ice cream? If you are in Winnipeg, head down to Chaeban in South Osborne

If you headed to my site today wanting to know what is going on in the world of ceramics, I am sorry.  It is summer and after watching a glaze kiln all day I needed a bit of a treat and what better than ice cream.

We are so lucky in the South Osborne area.  Chaeban opened in the winter and even then there were lineups for their handmade ice cream.  Read their story on their website.  It is heart warming.  And, as Canadians, it is a positive sign that we welcome refugees from the war-torn Middle East into our country and our lives by visiting this local shop which, by the way, brings a bunch of happiness into its customers lives (like mine).

The flavour of the week is Louis Riel Lavender, a blend of luscious infused lavender with the freshest of Saskatoons.  It is seriously amazing.

If you haven’t been to Chaeban, you need to go.  It reminds me of the old-fashioned ice cream parlours that we had when I was growing up in Oklahoma.  Everything is white and clean.  You stand in line inside in the cool.  The place is full of children with big smiles digging into their bowls.  It is just a happy place.  And now it even has free wifi.

You can’t buy the flavours at the local supermarket but they do have containers to take home.  If you are Vegan, no problem.  There is at least one flavour on hand just for you.  One day it was a deep dark chocolate with avocado.  The Plain Jane is anything but your old boring vanilla.  It is sweetened with local honey and is full of sour cream giving it a tang that you don’t find elsewhere.

Now…if they only had handmade pottery bowls…………………..Back to ceramics tomorrow but for now remember that ice cream is a wonderful way to cool down from the summer heat we have been experiencing.

 

‘The Bob Show’ needs you. Are you a former student of Bob Archambeau? Do you know someone who was?

2018 marks 50 years that Robert (Bob) Archambeau has been with the School of Art.  On November 28, a small exhibition of his work in celebration of his teaching and mentorship will open at the School of Art Gallery.

How can you help?  If you are a former student of Bob’s or you know someone who was, please contact me.  I am looking for stories, rememberings, and reflections on Bob as a teacher, mentor, and artist.  These will appear in the catalogue and on the walls of the gallery.

I am also looking for historic work and photographs.  Again, if you have photographs or work you could loan, please get in contact.  The School of Art Gallery is a class A gallery and the work is insured!

e-mail:  maryannsteggles@icloud.com    OR   maryann.steggles@umanitoba.ca

Thanks!