Santo Mignosa: Sea Salt, Lizards and Clay

Sea Salt, Lizards and Clay: Santo Mignosa; my ceramics from the Mediterranean to the Rockies.
Sea Salt, Lizards and Clay: Santo Mignosa; my ceramics from the Mediterranean to the Rockies.

The internet is a marvellous tool to bring much needed information on publications on ceramists to a wide audience: books such as Sea Salt, Lizards and Clay.

Sea Salt, Lizards and Clay is not just a textual but also an extensive visual autobiography of Santo Mignosa from his earliest days in Sicily, through his studies in Florence, to his many years in Canada, especially BC. I will leave the provocative meaning of the book title to those who read the book.

A foreword by ceramist and historian Debra Sloan sets the context for Mignosa’s place in ceramic history. The meat of book is a much illustrated biography that includes My Story, an Author’s Note and Author Statement. What follows are sections on what may surprise many who know of Mignosa only through his BC pottery. There is so much more to the man with sections on Figurative Sculptures, Abstract Sculptures, Murals, Drawings, and Wheel Throwing, from his earliest years up into his latest life and activities in Aldergrove, BC.

There are recollections from his partner, Susan Gorris, and memories from artists Ken Clarke and Susan Marczak. His detailed curriculum vitae — yes he is an octogenarian artist who maintains an extensive resume of an extensive career — can only hint at the scope of Mignosa’s work in BC and internationally; and of course, of his influence on so many Canadian students and professional potters. The many illustrations of his work give a much needed display of a career that has roots in both the Italian Renaissance and 20th century Modernism.

MIgnosa’s range of ceramic work is impressive both in form and in scale. His functional wares are sturdy and colourful, with overtones of the Leach tradition; but he has also been comfortable throwing large “classical” amphora-style works, well over a metre in height. A favourite sculptural form is his abstract sculptures, frequently with Surrealistic overtones, with, for example, a face emerging from a clay matrix. Others are large vase and cylinder forms capped or enveloped by penetrated and lightly incised mantle- or cape-like extensions. Frequently with raw, unglazed surfaces these can be seen standing like sentinels or massive chess pieces lining a wall of his studio.

Then there are his figurative sculptures, especially the nude as a favoured subject. The influence of his studies in Florence, of the Italian Renaissance and Classical sculpture, are most evident here; and in works such as Springtime there is a nod to Art Deco.

Clay is in the very bone of Santo Mignosa himself. As he says:

“For me, clay is not just a medium through which I create objects. It is an inseparable part of me, a constant companion in which I find comfort, fulfillment and pleasure in its versatility and applications.”

Sea Salt, Lizards and Clay is a needed and welcome addition to the story of ceramics in Canada.


Sea Salt, Lizards and Clay. My ceramics from the Mediterranean to the Rockies. Santo Mignosa. Granville Island Publishing, Vancouver BC. 2020. 126 pages.

ISBN: 9781989467329(softcover). $25.95 CAD, $20.95 USD. Available via your local bookstore, or
ISBN: 9781989467275 (hardcover). $45.95 CAD, $40.95 USD. Please contact the Publisher for this version.

8 thoughts on “Santo Mignosa: Sea Salt, Lizards and Clay

  1. Debra Sloan

    Santo’s book will be a welcome addition to the diverse story of ceramics in BC. His career has spanned many decades, with sculptural roots in Italy, wheel work at UBC Ceramic Huts in Vancouver, his MFA from Alfred U, and his teaching in Calgary U. These influences have been brought back to BC and continue to enrich our ceramic culture.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. louise Feit

    I attended a workshop years ago with Santo Mignosa and Liz Mould and was so impressed with both potters, santo was so artistc. the workshop was here in alberta, if i remember correctly it was at the University of calgary.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. enidlegroswise

    Thank-you Barry. I trust you are keeping well. Please stay that way. I’m having a lovely time creating jewellery and opening a shop on Etsy called VERITAS PORCELAIN. I feel so lucky to be able to continue working. Creating is such fun. My best Enid

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    Liked by 1 person

  4. connielpike

    I was in a class in Edmonton with Pierre Guy with Alberta Culture and Santos stopped in for a visit…He made himself a tie out of clay…We often connected with Santos and visited his studio in Calgary too. Bob and Connie Pike



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