Reflections Retrospective 1994-6

Posted by Diane Sullivan on

Having left Seattle, my friend dropped me in Calgary with my pottery and not much else but a tray full of slides of my work and some published critical writings on the role of decoration in ceramics. I still had 6 weeks before the Banff residency was to begin so I got on a Greyhound bus with an "anywhere in Canada" deal (have you figured out yet that at age 33 I still had neither a drivers' licence or a car in my life, I was education-poor for most of my

adult life to this point) and travelled back to Ontario and out to Vancouver to give lectures at art colleges before assuming my residency in Banff. After 6 years in an institution, what better place for an artist to go but another institution? My residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in the fall of 1994 was a great transition space for me where I discovered 1.I do not like scotch and 2. I love hiking. I made a small body of work in the residency including these pieces which were a throwback to the "build-a-pot-out-of-decoration" practiced in the Blue & Whites, just a different construction technique. The first one did a fair bit of travelling to exhibitions (I learned how to build crates in undergrad) before it was purchased by the City of Calgary for their art collection. Following the residency this homeless potter decided to settle in Calgary. Calgary was a quiet pre-boomtown then. I could afford both a studio and an apartment to myself in a supportive and fun arts scene. Also, my mother was living there at the time, so I managed to finally get my drivers' licence with her offering practice time in her vehicle.You can't live on the prairies and not drive. I actually got my licence with 10 hours of real time behind the wheel. Driving is one of my favourite things to do to this day, ironically, often with a load of pottery behind me.

Calgary 1995. After the earthy tones of the previous two years I made a body of work for a gallery exhibition using a bright low fire glaze palette. Made in my rented studio in an historic office building in downtown Calgary (pre-boomtown) this work is similar in essence to my thesis exhibition in every way except that it is low fired with an entirely different batch of glazes. I still own one of these pieces, I knew it would never happen again, even then. The colours look positively gaudy to me now. I was working part time as a ceramics technician in an arts centre and had lined up a show at a local gallery, but it didn't take me long to do the math, this was no way to make a living.

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