Intriguing shapes and light streaming through jewel-tone colours. Functional tableware, a stone quilt and one-of-a-kind glass installations.
Those words only hint at the creative exhibit the Samphires will present at the Filberg Festival. The annual arts and crafts festival takes place Friday through Monday over the BC Day long weekend. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day except Monday when the festival closes at 5.
It’s a family affair for the special guest artists this year. Adele and Sid Samphire work in clay while their daughter Lisa creates designs out of handblown glass. All will be displayed under the arbor on the upper level of Filberg Heritage Park.
Sid and Adele have been at every festival except two since 1996; this will be the fourth year in a row that Lisa has joined them.
The Samphires met while attending art school in Britain. Ironically, neither was studying or even making pottery at the time. Sid was painting and inscribing while Adele focused on dressmaking and textiles.
“We moved to Canada in 1965 and started a family,” explains Sid. “Adele took a pottery course as a way to have some time away from two young children. She developed an interest and began making decorative wall hangings for The Bay and apartment buildings. That’s how it started.”
In the beginning Adele fired her work at Douglas College putting everything together and framing it on a tarp in their house. Eventually Sid made a small studio for her. Later they built a kiln.
In the meantime, Sid was teaching art at a Lower Mainland high school and trying to paint.
“I’d start a painting then there’d be a three-week gap and the urge was gone,” he explains. “Then I realized that if I had a weekend free, I could complete a pottery project.”
In the early days Sid and Adele used the same types of clay and glazes and fired their work at the same temperatures. But when Sid retired he began working with different clay and was able to create enough work for a separate firing. He also converted the garage into another studio.
“Glass found me,” says Lisa. “I was working at New-Small and Sterling Glass Studio on Granville Island handling packing, shipping and those sorts of things. I more or less learned to blow glass from talking about it.”
Lisa began making jewelry out of bits of glass on the studio floor. “People would come in the gallery and want to know where I got my earrings,” she says. “I ended up selling my work right off my ears.”
She made enough money to finance her post-secondary education and got hooked on the craft. Eventually she opened Starfish Glassworks, a studio/gallery in Victoria.
Lisa’s work is now shown worldwide. She currently works at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and teaches glass-blowing at Red Deer College in Alberta and blows glass, of course.
For the festival, Adele has prepared a lot of tableware such as mugs and jugs in varying glazes. She’ll also display some collaborative works from other shows including a ‘stone’ quilt.
Although Sid is bringing some functional pieces, his work tends to be more sculptural and decorative. He’s bringing some small and large work, some architectural pieces and decorative ware influenced by landscape.
Lisa’s section of the display will contain a mix of functional pieces such as drinking glasses and plates, as well as distinctive one-off items. Be forewarned, there will be lots of gorgeous colour!
For more information on the Filberg Festival or the Samphires, visit www.filbergfestival.com.
Paula Wild is a published author and regular contributor to the Comox Valley Record’s arts and entertainment section.