Works by Marjo van Tooren

A celebration of friendship over pottery

What better way to celebrate the mid-summer beauty of Denman Island than to feature the artistic works of three diverse women who have come together to present a show deeply inspired by elements of our environment on the edge of the Salish Sea?

No stranger to the pottery scene on Denman Island, Marjo van Tooren, who originally moved to Denman in 1968, holds the distinction of being the first female potter of the “new generation” of potters to call Denman home.

A recent visit to van Tooren’s impressively large and well-equipped studio, opened for the first time this year on the pottery tour located behind her showroom at Down to Earth Pottery, offered a glimpse into the scale that the creation of pottery has played and continues to play in her life.

With an eclectic style and a passion for teaching and sharing her knowledge and equipment with others, including many children over the years; van Tooren is an inspiring figure in our local art scene. She continues to expand her ideas and vision for the use of her studio as a place for locals and visitors to study the pottery art form.

This show promises to include many of her beautiful hand-built pieces with their emphasis on nature and recurrent themes of the nautilus, leaves and fish. Recently, van Tooren has had the opportunity and space to rediscover pieces from her past, so this show promises to include some previously unseen work by this local denizen of island pottery.

This is the summer gallery’s first opportunity to welcome our newest woman potter, Jeanie Rogers, a talented clay artist, who has only called our island home since January 2018.

Rogers has been lucky to experience many different types of firing including raku, smoke firing, high fire gas reduction and medium-range electric oxidation.

Being included in the firing of clay pieces in the anagama kiln of Gordon Hutchens, Rogers began a friendship with van Tooren that has blossomed like her pottery. Hutchens’s generous sharing as a teacher encouraged Rogers to study at North Island College.

There she was able to explore a genre she loved but had never used, ‘in-glaze lustre firing’. It is a method that was used and refined at the turn of the 20th century and paired with Art Nouveau styling.

Working with both the wheel and more recently focusing on hand-built pieces, Rogers’ works are as diverse and beautiful as the environment she now calls home.

Francesca “Tachi” Barker, well known to many here on the island as the proprietor of The Curve, our popular Denman west ferry café and most recently the new owner of Abraxas, realized she had a gift for art at an early age.

After pursuing formal art education at both Emily Carr and North Island College, Barker’s acrylic painting and mixed media art, merges the effects of humanity and civilizations on the natural world. Using intricately dissected printed words from major publications, Barker creates abstract collages interwoven into her landscape paintings.

Most recently her art focuses on the theme of the ocean; water, tidelines, shorelines, beaches. Because winter provides the downtime from her other responsibilities; Barker describes her color pallet as “winter based” – subtle shadings and colors that come to life in her hands.

Curated by Pelka Wiltshire and Judith Scruton, this multi-artist show promises something for everyone. It is with great pride that the Summer Gallery hosts this show at the peak of the summer season.

The opening night reception at the Denman Island Summer Art Gallery is set for Thursday, July 26 at 7 p.m. The show runs to Aug. 7. Gallery hours are weekdays and Saturdays 11 to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1-3:45 p.m.

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