One of the very best times of the year for art lovers to explore peaceful Denman Island is over the May long weekend.
The annual Pottery Studio Tour on May 16 and 17 promises an ideal combination of laid-back rural ambience and the discovery of outstanding creativity.
Nine unique venues will be showcasing an amazing variety of functional and sculptural pieces both Saturday and Sunday.
Free maps for this self-guided adventure can be picked up at the Buckley Bay ferry booth. These handbills will also be available at the Denman Arts Centre where a special exhibition will highlight examples of work by each of the artist’s participating on the tour this year. The Centre is located at the top of the ferry hill, just past Lilac Sun Pottery.
‘Hand-builder’ Shirley Phillips specializes in working with slabs of clay to which she applies highly tactile designs.
From tiny plates decorated with lace-like patterns in copper, sage and turquoise blue to hanging wall torsos and textured smoke-fired vases, her small studio is a virtual treasure trove of affordable gift ideas.
Both Phillips and Marjo Van Tooren will be featuring new works fresh from the anagama, or ‘climbing-hill-dragon kiln’ on master potter Gordon Hutchens’ land.
A very exciting part of the Pottery Tour each spring is discovering the incredible range of clay works that have recently emerged from this annual week-long firing process.
Keeping the anagama fed around the clock involves many cords of firewood, and hard work by participants. But the engagement is one that fosters a wonderful sense of camaraderie among the numerous clay lovers involved.
Marjo Van Tooren
For Van Tooren, having fun has always been an important part of her decades-long work with the prima matera. This spring she has been playing with tiles and a series of small hand-built items she refers to as ‘feelies’… including small vases that fit into the palm of one’s hand. Newly ‘pinched’ bowls (or cups) as well as plates and a wide assortment of individually hand-crafted buttons and beads will also be available in Down to Earth Pottery.
Gordon Hutchens’ studio gallery is always brimming with fantastic creations, many blessed by the magic of swirling flames, smoke and wood ash. New works include shapely vases, swollen like the ripe seed pods of an exotic fruit boasting golden hues coaxed from the latest anagama firing. Hutchens employs a staggering range of firing techniques in different kilns to create the multiple effects he has mastered. His crystalline glazes – applied to bowls, plates, cups, vases and more – are breathtakingly beautiful. Equally outstanding is Hutchens’ use of Denman lustre- a rich blue-black, almost deep purple glaze with a pearl matt finish created with materials dug on the artist’s own land.
Scott and Garnet Beardsley, Hanne Christensen, Tom Dennis, Dante Ambriel and Bentley LeBaron will also be welcoming visitors between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. For a colourful sneak preview and ferry schedule information, visit www.denmanpottery2015.blogspot.ca