Reflections Retrospective 1991

Posted by Diane Sullivan on

13/31 I have a bit of a thing for numbers. January always marks a month of anniversaries for me. 13 years ago this month the sale of my building here in Williamsburg closed and I took possession, moving in with my camping gear for a bed and my dog Molly for support. Moll and I had driven out from Calgary dodging winter storms across the prairies and the northern US in to Ontario. It was in the -35C range for most of the drive. I asked for the January closing because of my show schedule; clearing out my studio in Calgary would be a lot easier at the end of the year when all of the work was gone. I have loved this building ever since. It really is my dream building. And January marks the month 31 years ago that I started working full time in clay. So 13/31, a Reflections Retrospective of my work, my career and my business.

I went back to university in 1989 at the age of 29 to become a potter. I had an earlier degree from Carleton University in Ottawa in Film Studies and History and had spent my 20’s moving around the country finding my path in life. The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax had a superior craft program and who wouldn’t want to go to school in the maritimes? From January of 1990 on I have lived and breathed clay. There is something sublime and visceral in my enjoyment of it. In 1991 I had my first solo exhibition of work in a gallery. Oversize (about 40” tall) vessels that were metaphors for the female body decorated with earth goddess imagery. I embraced decoration as a language using earth goddess imagery I discovered in Marija Gimbutas' book on prehistoric goddess imagery.

For the next few years I explore the idea that decoration is a language and language defines who we are.  "The Sisters". These pieces, a triptych of vessels built in 3 different clay bodies and are significant for a couple of reasons: they are the first pieces I carved the surfaces of with decoration. Carving is still a passion for me today. It's a very sensual thing. I love it. The second reason is a construction technique that I would use for most of my career. These are slab built, which means I rolled out large slabs of clay (think big pieces of clay cloth) and cut and assemble them hollow. The difference with these pieces is that first I made a prototype shape for the top part of the vessel and the handles then made large plaster moulds of those parts. (I was studying with Bruce Taylor at this point and he was the master of oversized plaster moulds.)That is why each vessel in this triptych is the same shape: I laid slabs of clay in to my moulds to get the shape, leaving me a beautiful blank surface to carve with patterns that I think of as meditation meanders.

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →