I have mentioned the Studio Pottery Canada website – http://www.studiopotterycanada.ca/ – before. The site is a much needed addition to the history of Canadian Studio Ceramics.
In a new article on the BC potter, Des Loan, the author, Cliff Schwartz, in concert with Loan’s son-in-law, Peter Flanagan, has shown his skill in research, documentation, and high quality photo-documents, including marks and signatures. Cliff is a collector who truly loves the subject of his research. With a focus on British Columbia ceramics, particularly the Okanagan Valley, he has produced a well-designed website that informative and a pleasure to read.
Cliff describes his site:
Pottery enthusiast learning about the history of this Canadian art form and curating samples from the best in the field pre-1980.
A modest statement, but a powerful addition to the Canadian ceramics story.
Scroll through the home page and read further articles on Gordon Hutchens, and The Summerland Art League; or click on the tabs for extensive sections on Wayne Ngan, and a gallery of BC and Alberta artists
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 Clayis 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 Amazon.ca ISBN: 9781989467275 (hardcover). $45.95 CAD, $40.95 USD. Please contact the Publisher for this version.
May 1st, 1974 — David Lambert, potter, at his home in Ryder Lake near Sardis. Photo courtesy John Denniston, http://www.johndenniston.ca
I have added a page on David Lambert, potter and animateur to the studioceramicscanada.com website. Often referred to as the “father” of BC ceramics Lambert left a legacy that is respected by ceramists today.
Thomas Kakinuma, Peacock (detail), glazed ceramic, 1963. Photograph by Ken Mayer Studios, 2018
The Ceramic Art of Thomas Kakinuma, January 24 to March 10, 2018.
West Vancouver Museum
680 17th Street, West Vancouver BC, V7V 3T2
Opening Reception: January 23, 7 to 9 p.m.
The Ceramic Art of Thomas Kakinuma is the artist’s first substantial retrospective offering a rare opportunity to see works from public and private collections. The exhibition is organized by the West Vancouver Museum, in collaboration with the Kakinuma Family, Debra Evelyn Sloan, Dr. Carol E. Mayer, Allan Collier and Stacy Reynaud.
Panel Discussion: Thomas Kakinuma in Context on Saturday, February 10, 2 p.m. Speakers: Debra Evelyn Sloan (ceramicist), Dr. Carol E Mayer (curator), Allan Collier (curator/collector) and Stacy Reynaud (collector)
Jan and Helga Grove in their garden at Sooke Rd studio, c. 1970, photo by Karl Spreitz
I have added a page on Jan and Helga Grove. Their training in Germany was intense and traditional but their work is so modern. Working out of the Victoria BC area Jan and Helga brought a new view to traditions outside of the dominant Leach-Hamada tradition.
Their retrospective exhibition curated by Allan Collier at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria continues until until May 28, 2017. Catch it if you are in the region. Or obtain the 128 page hard cover catalogue if you want a lasting memory.
I recently received two bits of ‘good’ news. One from Ed Drahanchuk and another from Robin Hopper.
Ed Drahanchuk. From Alberta Comes of Age Catalogue
Ed recently wrote me that he is planning on getting back into ceramics. For the past many years Ed has been working in his other artistic love, painting. As Ed puts it:
“I’ve been out of touch for some time now (years), but plan for my last stab into pottery for 2017 if all goes well. Just a matter of building my fifth kiln.”
Ed is still on Quadra Island coping with internet outages, snowstorms, mice chewing through water lines, and the arrival, or return, of a large mural once on the RBC head office in Calgary. Ed is contemplating how to uncrate and restore it. So nice to see that RBC preserved art rather than just discarding it for ‘progress’.
I interviewed Ed Drahanchuk many years ago and had planned a page on him. So expect to see that page on Ed here in the future.
Thank you Ed for connecting.
Robin Hopper and Judi Dyelle in their Metchosin garden
The other surprise was from Robin Hopper. I had noticed a surge in readers and followers. After a bit of digging I found out it was because of a post on Robin’s facebook page. Here is the post:
“I’m getting too shaky to write much and answer questions, so please don’t ask. Instead. I’m going to put you in the hands of Barry Morrison, editor of an information on-line Canadian ceramic topic. Barry is a brilliant scholar and ceramic historian who I’ve known for over 30 years. He has been well aware of my personal trajectory as well as other authors in giving the best overview of my multiple workstyles, technical info and techniques. You can find Barry’s amazing coverage at :
Studio Ceramics Canada.Com
If you want to know anything about Canadian ceramics and its major practitioners, this is definitely the best place to go.
Wow! Thank you, Robin. I think I’m going to have to increase my hat size by a few sizes.
By the way, Robin is still waiting for the final details of the location for his Order of Canada investiture.
Let’s welcome Ed back to ceramics and continue to congratulate Robin on this recent honour.
Kakinuma’s teachings, personality and style were profound for the developing BC ceramic community. His life and work characterize the mid-century journey that ceramists undertook in those days. A collective and personal sense of the affection and respect for him can be felt in Debra’ s guest article.
Debra is not only a ceramist herself but also an author, historian and archivist on things BC pottery. Much that can be found today on the history of ceramics in BC are due to her work.
Robin Hopper’s page was one of the first posted on this website, three years ago. It is also one of the most visited. A major update is long overdue. Artists’ pages on the site, their scope, format and content, have evolved, expanded.
The revised page explores more of Robin’s past activities and work, and also touches on his more recent activities and passions during what for him are difficult times.
Enjoy connecting with one of Canada’s most renowned ceramists, Robin Hopper RCA.