A Lot Can Change in a Year.

At this time last year, I was in my final year at Sheridan College and was preparing to spear head my first woodfiring. I had participated in three up to that point, merely showing up for a shift in the middle of the night and receiving a few finished pieces out of the deal. This firing I organized myself, chopped the majority of the wood, filled one third with my work and spent 24 hours stoking the flames. At that time I was preparing to move back in with my parents, while my partner moved to the West Coast. A lot can change in a year.

In the past year I graduated college and exhibited work in Toronto, Philadelphia, Waterloo, Hamilton and Burlington. I moved to Wiarton and worked for production potter Timothy Smith and spent the summer re-learning how to throw. I moved back in with my parents (again). I had 8 firings in 4 different wood kilns. I ran my first workshop. I went to NCECA 2013 in Houston. I bought my first and second Ron Meyers pots. I made pots in three different studio spaces. My partner moved back to Ontario.

We bought our first house.

On Friday we are joining the "homeowners club" in the quaint village of Jerseyville. Our new home is just outside of Hamilton, far enough from the city to feel like the country, and close enough to take advantage of concerts, show opportunities, and Hamilton's monthly Art Crawl. We will have our own store, studio and garden. We might get chickens. We will have our own kitchen! ... and I will have lots of wall space to display my pot collection.

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I wonder what next year will bring.

The Rat

RM3I first heard of Ron Meyers in second year at Sheridan, during one of our weekly morning chats with Tony Clennell. Each week we were given a new form to throw, be it cups, bowls, teapots or covered jars. First thing in the morning, we would sit around the table with Tony and start the day with tea, coffee and show and tell. Tony would bring in pots from his own collection, to show us some possible forms.

The teapot that Tony brought in of Ron Meyers' was grungy, eerie and hysterical all at the same time. Tony likes to joke that the teapot looks like it has been fired at with a shot gun - I agree with him. The piece looked bent, it had a crunched knob, and it was decorated with primitive clay smudges and stick scratches. I loved it. I had never before seen a piece of pottery that was so casual and confident. The marks of the maker were prominent and strong; he didn't try to cover up the touch of his hand, he emphasized it.

Since that morning coffee break I have fallen head over heels with Ron's pots. He is quite easily my favourite potter. At Sheridan we were lucky to have several of his demo pieces in the collection, and I spent lots of time admiring them and trying to gain some "looseness" in my work as well. I think what I admire most about his work is that IT'S HARD TO BE CASUAL, but he masters it. I have tried to make my pots gestural, for them to stand and slouch as humans do, informally. They only look sloppy and unintentional. Ron's pieces make sense. They exude confidence and reference the underground in a way that is witty and wise. The animals he carves or paints onto the surfaces are evil and mysterious, with no lack of character. I am in awe of all that this man does. If I worshipped a god, he would be it.

RM4

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This past weekend, Pinecroft Centre for the Arts hosted Ron Meyers for a weekend long workshop. Tony's family started Pinecroft 60 years ago - it continues to be the longest running pottery in Canadian history. I attended the workshop on Saturday, and was able to meet Ron for the second time and finally watch him make some pots. The way he works is directly reflected in the way his pieces turn out - he is casual, he is confident, he exudes strength and mystery and knowledge. These attributes are all noticeable in any given piece.

IMG_3459I already have one piece of Ron's in my own collection (remember that Cow plate from my blog entry "Cattle" in March?), but I see many more in the future. Bats, frogs, rats, birds, cats, dogs, pigs? I just can't control myself.

You can find Ron Meyers' work in the online AKAR gallery. www.akardesign.com

You can read more about Pinecroft on their website and on Tony Clennell's blog. www.pinecroftcentreforthearts.com www.smokieclennell.blogspot.com

 

Cattle

IMG_1825This week I am in Houston, Texas for NCECA - a massive conference where clay people from all over North America flock to look at work, buy tools and equipment, listen to discussions and lectures and most of all, socialize. This is my second year attending with The Pottery Supply House (my part-time job). We are exhibiting in the resource hall along with dozens of other companies that supply/manufacture kilns, equipment, tools, glazes, literature etc. As enjoyable as a week immersed in clay-related activities and networking is, I was at the point of a nervous breakdown prior to my departure from Canada. The Gardiner show is only three weeks away and I am taking an entire week away from my clay work in order to spend some time in Texas. Bad, bad, bad. So I spent the weekend pumping out dozens of doilies while watching episodes of BBC's Blue Planet and had some much needed outdoor time. We took my parents' dog Bentley (I call him Boo) on a long hike and then went to the beach where he dug big holes in the sand and repeatedly dropped his ball in the lake.

IMG_2040Monday afternoon we were off to Houston! Not only is the temperature significantly warmer, but the immediate arrival of sunshine and plants that are GREEN were extremely comforting. We set aside our winter jackets, boots and wool socks and donned sandals, sunglasses and shorts. It's lovely here in the South.

Houston is a beautiful city! Though this concrete jungle lacks in small pubs and quaint diners, I have rarely been to a city so full of joy - the abundant stretches of lawn, bamboo stalks and palm trees reflect rays of cheer as you walk down the street. Maybe this past winter in Toronto has felt particularly long - I have never enjoyed hot, humid air so much.

IMG_1922Yesterday we went to the NCECA Biennial and the NCECA National Student Juried Exhibition as well as several other small shows in Houston's Museum District. Though not impressed overall with the work at the Biennial, the Student Exhibition was quite delightful and had many lovely pieces that provoked wonder, thought and concern. Some of my favourites belonged to Shasta Krueger and Heather Davis.

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Today after 8 hours selling at our booth, my colleague Becky and I went to Santa Fe Clay: La Mesa, where 150 potters had work set out on long tables for the public to peruse and purchase. Unfortunately all of the pieces I wanted to purchase had already been donned with little red dots - somebody else had got there first.

Thankfully, NCECA has no shortage of pots. I went up to the Gallery Expo and bought myself a plate by Ron Meyers. I've always admired his work and came very close to buying a piece of his last year, when again, I was thwarted by that red dot. So on Tuesday when we arrived I started scoping out for his pieces and found several galleries at the Expo that showed his work. I had been eyeing this plate ever since and finally mustered up the courage to add it to my collection. My wallet is hurting, but I'm not - this may have been the best purchase I've ever made.

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