Nora Vaillant has been active in ceramics as a potter and an independent researcher for over twenty years. Her 2002 MA thesis for the University of British Columbia examined the aesthetic influence of Canada’s returning Leach apprentices on West Coast studio pottery producers and collectors in the 1960s and later. She is a contributing author to the Belkin Art Gallery’s exhibition catalogue Thrown: British Columbia’s Apprentices of Bernard Leach and their Contemporaries (2001), and a co-curator of the Belkin’s exhibition High Fire Culture in 2013. She served for five years on the Board of the Potters’ Guild of British Columbia and is on the planning committee for the Canadian Clay Symposium.She teaches at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, the Richmond Centre for Art and The Roundhouse. Her recently published catalogue, John Reeve: Some Hidden Magic, will be available for sale after the lecture.
John Reeve (1929-2012) strove to capture what he called “the soul of the pot”, the charged air contained by a whirling orb. Sometimes quirky, sometimes cutting edge, his pots reflect an unorthodox stance best described by Reeve himself when he said, “I’m not really interested in committing novelty upon the world, but only in making objects which have some hidden magic to them.” The first of four Vancouver-area students to apprentice at the Leach Pottery in St. Ives (1958-1961), Reeve was an important influence on ceramics in British Columbia. Following his return from St. Ives, Reeve taught and made pots in Canada, the United States and England, his talent and charisma influencing students wherever he worked. Reeve regularly visited Minnesota to make pots with his lifelong friend, the American potter Warren MacKenzie, who once called him “my best double.” Settling in New Mexico in the 1980s, he was a founding member of Santa Fe Clay.A contemporary of the Beat generation, Reeve drew inspiration from the writings of Jack Kerouac, D. T. Suzuki, and the poet Gary Snyder’s translations of Han-shan, a T’ang Dynasty monk whose search for enlightenment revolved around the idea of Cold Mountain. Vaillant’s lecture explores the appeal this Zen concept held for Reeve and traces his peripatetic journey alongside his work in porcelain, stoneware and earthenware. The lecture will be held in the Studio Theatre, Friday, September 29, at 7pm, as part of Culture Days at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, 6450 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, BC, and will be followed by a reception. We look forward to seeing you there.