Author Archives: Amy Gogarty

The North West Ceramics Foundation Celebrates 30 years!

Guests enjoy the spread from Noble Egg catering.

Founded April 23, 1993, to assist the Potters Guild of BC, The NWCF subsequently developed to become an independent agency with the mandate to foster public education in and appreciation of the ceramic arts. Dr. Carol E. Mayer was our first president, joined by Tam Irving and Sally Michener, both professors of ceramics at The Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art and Design).

Carol Mayer describes the new NWCF Sally Michener Emerging Artist Award; By Donation table at right.

Though out our history, we have provided awards, scholarships and bursaries; supported publications; presented a public Speakers Series; supported a BC Ceramics Mark Registry, and generally worked to connect the many wonderful ceramic artists, supporters, and collectors throughout the province. These and other activities are detailed here on our website.
On November 2, 2023, we had a party to celebrate our success and thank our donors and supporters who have made our work possible. Held at the Mayer Studio at 1000 Parker St, the event featured marvellous food by fellow ceramic enthusiast and chef extraordinaire Nicole Guillemin of Noble Egg Catering. A silent auction of historical BC pots donated by the estate of Sally Michener and others, and a “By Donation” table of objects in use in Sally’s own home and kitchen generated  enthusiasm and interest. Proceeds from the auction will go to a new initiative, the NWCF Sally Michener Emerging Artist Award.

Collectors tyler Fritz and John Lawrence chat about an Axel Ebring candle holder.

Collectors Tyler Fritz and John Lawrence examine an Axel Ebring candle holder.

All in all, the evening was a great deal of fun and a wonderful way to celebrate our spectacular ceramics community. Thank you one and all!!!

Thank you to Board member Gillian McMillan for her great photographs of the event!

Kristine Aguilar at the Cerdeira Home for Creativity

The North-West Ceramics Foundation was recently able to support Kristine Aguilar’s workshop opportunity at the Cedeira Home for Creativity in Serra de Lousã, Portugal, through the Maureen Wright Bursary. Below please find an excerpt from the fascinating report  she wrote for us. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Kristine for her account and to wish her all the best on her future projects, which will undoubtedly be all the more exciting given her remarkable experience.

About an hour’s drive east of Coimbra, [Portugal] Cerdeira Home for Creativity is situated in the mountains of Serra de Lousã, in an old schist village by the same name. The oldest record of the village’s existence is from the late 1600s, though it is suspected to be much older. . . . Driving into Cerdeira for the first time one wonders, how did humans ever get to this place before automobiles? As you drove on, the feeling of remoteness starts to set in with each hairpin turn up the steep mountainous road. At the end of the road is a small cobblestone parking lot with a chapel on one side of a valley that’s divided by a stream. Stepping out of the car, you are immediately struck with an incredible view of the schist village enveloped by trees. This storybook landscape seems so surreal that it is hard to imagine a place like this still exists in 2023. It appears to be untouched by modern society, yet at the same time, reminders of the present can be seen with the wind turbines that top the mountain ridges. To enter the village, one needs to walk from the parking lot and cross a small wooden bridge above a stream. Like in Zen Buddhist gardens, a bridge is symbolic of a gateway- once crossed you are transported into another world. With each step towards the village, time starts to slow down and as you get absorbed within the history and nature of place that you find yourself now in unity with the environment.

I am here for a 9.5 day workshop called, “Making Glazes from Rocks,” taught by Matthew Blakely. Matthew is a highly accomplished and internationally renowned potter from the UK who fires with wood and gas. Unhappy with the commercially available clay bodies in the UK, Matthew began to develop his own clay bodies, as well as glazes, from local materials he collects. In addition to our glaze experiments and lectures, we also had 3.5 days to make as much work as we can to fill the Sasukenei Smokeless wood kiln for a firing.

We started off the workshop by conducting various glaze tests with materials that some of the participants brought. We had German river clay, dirt from Stockholm, wood ash from New York, Mount St. Helens volcanic ash, just to name a few. The participants who didn’t bring any materials were given some from the Azores to test, which were collected by the amazing artist couple who run the ceramic studio at Cerdeira, Renato Costa e Silva and Kerstin Thomas.

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After 2 days, we had a chance to see how our glaze tests turned out. We fired them in an electric kiln at cone 10 just to get a sense for what the materials would do at temperature. Those that had interesting results, made bigger batches of glaze for the woodfire. Others were driven to research their materials further and made more tests.

On day 5, we had to glaze, wad and load the wood kiln all in the same day as the firing was to start the following morning. . . .  After glazing, we assisted Renato load the kiln. September is deer rutting season in these mountains. Every night, we heard the grunts and groans of male deer trying to call a mate. I don’t know if one could ever get used to these bewildering sounds- sometimes they sounded like cows, sometimes donkeys- which came at random intervals that occasionally caught you off guard. On this particular evening, the calls were so much louder than other nights since we were up until dawn bricking up the kiln door. Nevertheless, we got a chance to see some deer close by.

Kerstin and Renato had first heard about the Sasukenei smokeless kiln concept through another Portuguese potter who used one while he was working in China. After learning who designed the kiln, Kerstin and Renato invited Masakazu Kusakabe to build one at Cerdeira in 2015. If the name sounds familiar, it is because he is the same person who had also built the Umbu kiln that was previously at the Shadbolt Centre. The Sasukenei is not a new design for it is described in detail in Masakazu’s book that he co-wrote with Marc Lancet, called Japanese Wood-Fired Ceramics, published in 2005. . . .  Another design feature worth mentioning is the two oven ports on top of the firebox for cooking. Although it is too hot for pizza, Kerstin had roasted some apples with cinnamon during the firing and while the kiln was cooling, she baked us apple loaves.

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After firing the Sasukenei for 33 hours, we finally had some recovery time the next morning. Later in the day, Matthew gave more lectures on glazes, wild clay and about his own work. Matthew revealed that he originally went to school for medicine but then later changed majors and found himself in ceramics instead. This illustrates Matthew’s ability to explain the scientific workings of a glaze in such an approachable manner that’s easy to comprehend. I highly recommend taking a class with him if you can.

The following day, we unloaded the kiln. The results were quite varied as one would expect from a wood kiln. Some pieces got a good amount of ash while other pieces were dry or underfired due to the air that was unintentionally let in from the side stoke ports. For the remainder of the day, we knocked wads off our pieces, sanded, wrapped them up with newspaper and stuffed our work into our suitcases. In the evening, we had a little commemorative toast to end the course and say our goodbyes. The next morning, we all had to check out by 11am. Rolling my suitcase on the uneven shale path, I slowly made my way back to the little wooden bridge and crossed over to the other side of the stream anew.

For more information on the kiln, please see Masakazu Kusakabe and Marc Lancet, Japanese Wood-Fired Ceramics (Kraus Pub. 2005).

Kristine Aguilar

September 2023




Kate Metten Presented with Judson Beaumont Emerging Artist Award

Kate Metten

We are pleased and proud to announce that Kate Metten, who previously received our Maureen Wright Bursary to attend a residency in Denmark, is the 2023 recipient of the BC Achievement Award of Applied Art + Design Judson Beaumont Emerging Artist Award, presented by the BC Achievement Foundation, an independent foundation that honours excellence and inspires achievement throughout the province. The award program celebrates British Columbians who excel at creating functional art and design, while advancing the collective conversation around its importance. With the support of the NWCF, Kate was nominated by our founding president and long-term board member, Dr. Carol E. Mayer, who received the Craft Council of BC “Citizen of Craft” award earlier this year.

As stated by the committee, Kate Metten’s pottery is a “testament to intuition and muscle memory found within each unique piece. An exceptional commitment and dedication to her craft have made her an emerging artistic force in the world of ceramics.” Kate’s contributions to the cultural economy are similarly noteworthy. She runs an atelier in Mount Pleasant, where she conducts workshops, mentors students, and curates exhibitions, providing emerging potters and craftspeople with exposure and opportunities.

Quoting from Dr. Mayer’s nomination letter, Kate is “. . . passionate about clay, and she works tirelessly in opposition to mass production by creating vessels that have spirit and soul, no two alike yet all consistently finely thrown and caringly glazed. . . . Her vessels are a combination of well-thrown forms and jewel like glazes that are sought after by a growing clientele.”

Congratulations Kate! We look forward to many more achievements from you.
For more on Kate Metten, please see her website.

John David Lawrence and Daina Augaitis in Conversation

John David Lawrence (left) and Daina Augaitis (right). Photo Credit:  Julie Riches

The North-West Ceramics Foundation is pleased to announce a talk sponsored in collaboration with Inform Interiors. Part of the Canadian Society of Decorative Arts 2023 Symposium to be held in Vancouver September 8-10, Collector’s Perspective: John David Lawrence in conversation with Daina Augaitis will feature an intimate discussion focussing on some of John’s most treasured pieces and the stories behind them. The talk will take place at Inform Interiors in Gas Town, 50 Water Street, Friday, September 8, 2023, at 6pm. A reception starting at 5:20 will precede the event. Attendance is free, but registration is required and space limited. Please see here or below to register. Continue reading

Dr. Carol E. Mayer receives the Citizen of Craft 2023 Award

The North-West Ceramics Foundation is thrilled to announce that one of their founding Board members, Dr. Carol E. Mayer, was recently presented the Citizen of Craft 2023 Award by the Craft Council of BC. For over 35 years, Carol has been a staunch advocate for ceramics, beginning with research and support leading to the establishment of the Koener Gallery of Ceramics at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, through her helping to found the North-West Ceramics Foundation in 1993, and her extensive work in promoting the cultural, community, and aesthetic value of BC ceramics. Carol has curated and published widely about ceramics including A Discerning Eye: The Walter C Koerner Collection of European Ceramics; Don Hutchinson: The Artful Potter; Transitions of a Still Life; The Space In Between: The Contemporary Works of Sally Michener and Tam Irving; Pleased to Meet You- Introductions by Gwyn Hanssen-Pigott; and the recent blockbuster exhibition Playing with Fire – Ceramics of the Extraordinary.

In addition to her support for BC ceramics, Carol is vice-president of the Pacific Arts Association (North America) and a board member of the Pacific Peoples Partnership (the only Canadian NGO working in the Pacific.)  She has received fellowships from the Smithsonian Institution and the Sainsbury Research Unit, and has been granted numerous awards, including from the Canadian Museums Association (where she is an appointed Fellow), the International Council of Museums, the BC Museums Association, and life membership in the Potters Guild of BC. She has also received the President’s Medal of Excellence at UBC, the Independence Medal from the Republic of Vanuatu for her cultural contributions, and the Pacific Arts Association Manu Dala (Frigate Bird) Award for outstanding achievements in the study of the arts of the Pacific.

Congratulations Carol!!!

Honours for BC Potters Robin DuPont and Amy Duval

Robin DuPont, wood-fired plates

The North-West Ceramics Foundation is thrilled to announce honours for two members of the BC Ceramics Community, Robin DuPont and Amy Duval.

Robin DuPont, who was awarded the 2021 NWCF Mayer Wosk Award of Excellence and who was one of our most popular presenters for our Speakers Series, was recently honoured by the town of Nelson BC, which named him the 2023 Cultural Ambassador. He joins other distinguished ambassadors from that culturally vibrant city. To read more about Robin, please see here.

Amy Duval, Mechanics of Growth (Part V), 2017, ceramic, coloured slips, 17’ x 9’

Amy Duval earned her BFA from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in 2017, where she studied with Board member Ying-Yueh Chuang. In 2017, she received a Maureen Wright bursary from the NWCF and was accepted as a Ceramic Artist in Residence at Harbourfront, in Toronto. She currently serves as the Residency Coordinator at the International Artist-in-Residence Program at the Shaw Centre for Contemporary Ceramics (Medalta) in Medicine Hat, Alberta. In 2023, Amy was awarded the Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramicsan extremely prestigious acknowledgement of her achievements and the only national award for emerging ceramic artists in Canada. The award supports career development, and we are all excited to see what this young artist does next!!

Congratulations Robin and Amy! Your achievements contribute to the ongoing story of ceramics in BC!


好「東西」要和好朋友分享!: Sharing the Best (of East and West) with Good Friends!

Clockwise from upper left: Evan Ting-Kwok Leung, Wei Cheng; Ying-Yueh Chuang, Jennifer Woodin, Amy Li Chuan Chang

The North-West Ceramics Foundation is pleased to announce their next Speakers Series Event, a panel presentation on Zoom, Sunday, April 2, at 2pm. The panel consists of four BC ceramic artists of Chinese descent, Amy Li Chuan Chang, Wei Cheng, Ying-Yueh Chuang, and Evan Ting-Kwok Leung, who will discuss the influence of their language, culture and heritage on their studio practice in Canada. All are welcome, but registration is required. Please see here or below to register for this exciting panel. Continue reading

Jennifer Woodin

Jennifer Woodin is an artist, educator, meditation mentor and bee-enthusiast, aspiring to awaken kindness and wisdom within society. Her creative process weaves together the craft of compassion, transformative social practices, ceramic object making, relationship building and contemplative technologies. In 2016 she co-founded the Hudson Valley Bee Habitat(HVBH), pollinating public engagement with bees and the environment, helping both humans and other than human species to thrive. Woodin is currently living in Vancouver, where she shares her love for art, pollinators, and seeds of engagement. She is a board member with the Native Bee Society of British Columbia and teaches at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
Her work has been exhibited widely throughout the U.S., Denmark, Canada, Sweden, Taiwan, Norway and other locations. Woodin develops much of her art at residencies including the European Ceramic Work Center(EKWC) in Oisterwijk, Netherlands, the National Workshops of Art and Crafts in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Archie Bray Foundation, and Haystack School of Crafts. She has taught with NOMAD9 at Hartford University, State University NY at New Paltz, and the University of Oregon. Jennifer joined the NWCF Board in 2023.

Judy Chartrand at the Scripps College 78th Ceramic Annual

In Memory of Those No Longer With Us, 2022, Low fire paper clay, underglaze, glaze 13.25 x 13.25 x 4.25 inches. Photo: Judy Chartrand.

The North-West Ceramics Foundation is proud to announce that Judy Chartrand, who shared the 2018 NWCF Mayer Wosk Award of Excellence with Jackie Frioud, is one of ten participants in the 2023 Scripps College 78th Ceramic Annual. Held at the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, in Claremont, California, from January 21 to April 9, 2023, the exhibition Handle Carefully: The Power of Words and Clay, was guest-curated by Kirk Delman and included, in addition to Judy, renowned ceramic artists such as Robert Arneson and Beth Lo. The annual ceramic exhibition features new art in clay, and, rather than presenting one work by many artists, the exhibition focuses on a smaller number of artists showing several works. To bring a range of perspectives, a different guest curator, many of whom are well-known artists, is invited each year to curate the exhibition. The 78th annual looks at how artists use words in their work to “illustrate, emphasize and elaborate social, political, gender concepts along with personal inspirations.”
Writing in the catalogue, which is available on line here , Kay Whitney says “her confrontational work speaks of the social and cultural situation of First Nation peoples and issues confronting them: racist policies and attitudes, inequity and poverty. That these issues are expressed with a sly undercurrent of humor makes her messages all the more pointed.” One of the works, In Memory of Those No Longer With Us, 2022, was purchased by the gallery for its permanent collection.
We are delighted and proud that Judy and her outstanding work are being recognized in such a prestigious international context. Congratulations Judy!

For more on Judy Chartrand and her work, please see here.

Martin Peters

Martin Peters earned his degree in Fine Arts from the Kootenay School of Art in Nelson, BC, where he studied with Walter Dexter. From 1972 until 1974, he apprenticed with Michael Henry at Slug Pottery, and, from 1974 to 1975, at the Leach Pottery in St. Ives in Cornwall, England. Returning to Canada, he worked with John Reeve at Cold Mountain Pottery in Roberts Creek, BC, from 1975 to 1978. Changing careers, he earned a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto in 1984. In 1986, he became a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and, in 2003, of British Columbia. Continuing throughout his law career to make and exhibit his ceramics, in 2003 he established Dunbar Pottery, which he operates to this day with Ron Vallis. Martin joined the Board of the NWCF in 2023. For more on his work, please see Dunbar Pottery.