TOAE 2013

At every Toronto show that I attend, I can't help but feel that the art and craft communities seem to be shrinking. However after this weekend, I have come to realise that the communities are not small, rather I am starting to know more and more of the members. Take this year's Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE 2013) for example. A former classmate and I went down to the show yesterday morning at 10am, planning to be home by the time the sun was highest in the sky. Instead, it was nearly 6pm when I finally arrived home - sporting a wicked sunburn and blistered feet. I've been lucky to make it through a (large) art show in under 3 hours only once before. This is a feat that was relatively impossible, especially when it seemed that every other booth had somebody that I knew, and stopped to chat with (not to mention all of the enticing artwork that one could spend hours feasting their eyes on). IMG_3587

The technician at Sheridan jokes that TOAE should be called the SAAE - Sheridan's Annual Alumni Exhibition, as there are so many former grads who participate in the show. My classmate and I stopped at one of our colleague's booth and within ten minutes, there were 7 Sheridan students (current and alumni) all crammed in, catching up and admiring the work. We joked that it was as if a fog horn had gone off, alerting Sheridan alumni everywhere to congregate at Yellow Booth 259.

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It was hot and humid, but a delightful day for a show. Nathan Phillips Square was packed with a sea of white tents, and a larger sea of moving bodies. The range of work at the show was enticing - installation, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, glass, jewellery, painting, photography, and more! Much more! After spending seven hours looking at prices, checking out booth designs, networking and catching up with friends, I feel strongly encouraged by this venue. Maybe TOAE 2014 will be in the cards for me next year.

Until then, I'll just keep making pots.

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These are some juice cups fresh from the wood-soda kiln. Looking forward to more of these.

Walk in the Rain

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After work yesterday I got into my little red car and drove back down to the GTA for a couple days. For the first 45 minutes it was bucketing rain but afterwards the drive was pleasant, and all of the plants appeared to have exploded with colour from the past few days of drizzle. A highlight of the road trip was the little town of "Scone" just a half hour south of Wiarton. Having missed the turn off to the main highway, I took several smaller roads to get back on track and stumbled my way through this little area. Not only did I see some Menonites on a horse and buggy (always humbling to see), but the farmland and lush orchards at the side of the road were breathtaking. There is something very inspiring about wide open fields of green. The large expanses of space make me feel much smaller and much more insignificant, something I always find liberating.

Today I took my parent's dog on a hike through Dundas Valley Conservation Area with my friend Tom. We started out at Sherman Falls and hiked through to The Hermitage (the ruins of a 19th century mansion) before looping back through an old orchard. I haven't been on a nice long hike in a while, but I'll have to scope out some good places in the Bruce Peninsula so I can get back into shape. I would love to hike the entire Bruce Trail one day, but at the rate I'm going, I wouldn't have the stamina. Bentley quite enjoyed the hike as well, he even saw his first deer.

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I'm headed back up to Wiarton tomorrow with more of my clay and equipment, so I can start producing some of my own work during my days off. I will be firing a wood-fired soda kiln with Marcelina Salazar (another Sheridan alumnus) at the end of June, and need to start making some work for it.

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Until next time, enjoy your weekend!

Grad Show at the Ontario Crafts Council

The school year is officially over and I've moved all of my things out of the studio for the last time. Yesterday I moved up to Wiarton, ON (about 3 hours North of the GTA) to apprentice with a potter for the summer. I start tomorrow. Until today I have not had a moment free to update with all of the recent events, shows and day-to-day musings. I have been taking photographs and notes however, so please bear with me over the next few days while I catch up on all the latest. [gallery type="square" columns="5" ids="597,595,596,598,599"]

Back in April we fired Scarlet again for our last time. We won't be returning to Sheridan in the fall so our access to atmospheric kilns has been cut off (unless of course the students next year invite us to put a couple pieces in). We kicked it into high gear during the last two weeks of school and tried to produce as much work as possible so we could fully stack the wood kiln and soda kiln with our work.

This time firing Scarlet we were smarter. We loaded her up on the Saturday night, went home for a good night's sleep and returned early Sunday morning to get her going. I had the first shift and relaxed in my comfy chair by the tiny fire for hours drinking tea. No heavy duty stoking required in that early morning shift.

After the kiln fired off we had a day's break to prep for two shows that weekend - one at the Ontario Crafts Council in Toronto, the other at the gallery at Sheridan. I went over to the OCC Wednesday morning to set up for the second part of This Could Work. The first part was set up the week prior to our opening and presented the work of the graduates from the glass and textiles studios. Here's a collection of photos I took at that event:

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The second half of the show was the work of the furniture and ceramics students. I met with a couple fellow students, Linda Sormin (our studio head) and our amazing installer Carmen to set up for the show. At the end of a long day we had all the wall work installed, all the plinths for furniture painted and the space was set up, ready to place the work. A big thank you goes out to Carmen for returning the next day to finish set up and look after the final details!

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Part of my work for the OCC included a performance piece, where I invited two people to intimately serve desserts to the audience at the opening. These lovely ladies, decked out in theatrical outfits and high heels, drifted through the overflowing opening and invited the audience to experience my dessert stands, by snacking on the macarons, tarts and rum balls that were delicately placed on their lace doilies. A strong interest for me lies in the human condition and how society acts and reacts in certain situations. This activity brought back a breadth of information on the ways in which humans interact with each other intimately. Some people at the show accepted the offer gratefully, with unwavering delight. Others were sceptical, not only pausing to question the food itself, but the kind gesture of a complete stranger.

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Finally, THANK YOU to the Ontario Crafts Council for hosting the event and continually supporting Sheridan College's Craft and Design program. So many of the opportunities available to us are thanks to their efforts and encouragement. For more information visit the OCC's website.

Variations on Symmetry

IMG_1704 Thursday night was the opening of Variations on Symmetry, a show presenting the works of Eliza Au and Ying-Yueh Chang. I have always admired Ying-Yueh's work in photographs, never having had the opportunity to experience her installations in person. Ying-Yueh previously taught at Sheridan and though she never taught me personally, I heard many stories of her dedication and passion for ceramics. Believe me, the work proves it.

The OCC's Janna Hiemstra curates a fantastic show. From the sidewalk of Queen West, the view through the gallery's front window is enticing and enchanting; Ying-Yueh's "Winter Garden" hangs at the front, inviting the public into a wonderland of detail, precision and repetition.

The show was frankly, breathtaking. Each piece boasted hours of labour, meticulous detail and intentional composition. Eliza Au (a former student of Ying-Yueh's) presented equally as complex and delicate forms. Using primarily ceramic, glass and paper, Eliza's works reflected elaborate tessellations, pattern and repetition.

Variations on Symmetry has been in the works for FOUR years and has been touring across Canada for several months. It's next stop will be in Halifax, Nova Scotia. For more information on the show, go to www.craft.on.ca

Better yet, check out the show - it's on until April 13th at the Ontario Craft Council (990 Queen St. West, TO).

Here are some photos from the opening.

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Coverage of Trans-Form Function

IMG_0885I was interviewed by two journalists at the "Trans-Form Function" opening back on January 10th. Back at the studio, I was mid glazing when another journalist asked if they could talk to me for a moment about the program.  I never got around to seeing what they wrote about our studio, the work we created, and our exhibition. So today I did some digging. Here are a few links to videos, photo collections and articles about the ceramics program at Sheridan. I'm featured in the article "Extending your thoughts through art" by Cole Ritchie - along with an unflattering photograph. So, if you didn't make it out to the show - live vicariously through these links.

Oh, and all of the journalists are fellow Sheridan students!

Extending your thoughts through art

Sheridan Ceramic Exhibition

Trans-Form/Function in AA Gallery

Happy snow day.