Alwyn O’Brien | “The Line and the Fold”

The North–West Ceramics Foundation is pleased to announce Alwyn O’Brien as their featured speaker at a free public lecture Thursday, November 17, 2016, at 7:30 pm. The lecture will be held in Room 245, North Building of Emily Carr University of Art + Design at 1399 Johnston Street, Granville Island, Vancouver. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Born and raised on Salt Spring Island, Alwyn O’Brien attended Sheridan College of Craft and Design in Oakville, Ontario, receiving her diploma in 2002. She earned her BFA from Emily Carr in 2004 and her MFA from the University of Washington in Seattle in 2010. She has attended numerous creative residencies including ones at Pilchuck Glass in Washington State, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and the international wood-fired ceramics symposium in Kohila Parish, Estonia. In 2012, she was nominated for the RBC Emerging Artist competition held at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, and she was awarded the North-West Ceramics Foundation Award for excellence in the field of ceramics. As a recipient of the prestigious Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics, this past summer she undertook a six-week residency to study Talavera Pottery at the Arquetopia Foundation in Puebla, Mexico. She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Canada and the US, and her work is held in public and private collections in both those countries. Represented by the James Harris Gallery in Seattle, WA, she is currently an instructor in ceramics at Langara College in Vancouver.

What to Do With All These Blues

What to Do With All These Blues, Porcelain, Stoneware, wood mantel, dimensions variable

For O’Brien, the vessel is the “foundational metaphor” of her practice, but her vessels in no way resemble conventional containers. Consisting of asymmetrical heaps of lacy clay filaments elaborated to the point of near collapse, her ambitious yet fragile structures explore aspects of desire, entropy and loss. As a maker, she interrogates “the threshold where the immaterial and the material inform one another, fall into each other and become the other.” Incorporating historical references–in particular, to the Baroque—her vessels challenge notions of permanence, undermine stability, embody fluidity and celebrate the irregular and the possible.

In her lecture, “The Line and the Fold,” O’Brien will discuss her career and the conceptual and philosophical impulses that inform her unusual approach to contemporary vessel making. The lecture will take place Thursday, November 17, 2016, at 7:30 pm, in Room 245, North Building of Emily Carr University of Art + Design at 1399 Johnston Street, Granville Island, Vancouver. We hope to see you there.

​For more information on Alwyn O’Brien, please see the website of her gallery at