A founding member of the North-West Ceramics Foundation, Tam Irving is an internationally recognized educator, studio potter and ceramic artist who lives and works in West Vancouver. He has exhibited widely across Canada and the United States, as well as in Japan and China. His work was featured in the exhibition Thrown: Influences and Intentions of West Coast Ceramics at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at UBC in 2004, and it was the subject of a solo exhibition, Transitions of a Still Life, curated by Carol Mayer, at the Burnaby Art Gallery in 2007. His work is in the collections of The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull; the Gardiner Museum, Toronto; the Clay and Glass Gallery, Waterloo and the Surrey Art Gallery in Surrey.
After obtaining a degree in Agriculture from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Irving worked as a chemist for Shell Canada in Burnaby and later Winnipeg, where he began to study pottery in evening classes at the Winnipeg School of Art. As he describes in Thrown, he built a studio at Fisherman’s Cove, BC, where, influenced by the philosophy of Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, he produced functional wares and sculpture. Between 1977 and 1983, he was assisted by former student Ron Vallis. A workshop in 1966 with New Zealand potter Harry Davis introduced Irving to the use of locally sourced materials for glazes, something for which his work became renowned. His engagement with these materials extended to purchasing and installing industrial machinery in his studio, which enabled him to crush and process rocks into glaze material. In 1973, he accepted a position teaching ceramics with Sally Michener at the Vancouver School of Art (later Emily Carr), a position he held, inspiring and influencing several generations of students, until retiring in 1996 to return to studio practice.
Irving has continued to maintain an active studio practice, exploring and expanding the expressive and sculptural potential of handmade ceramic forms. In 1993, he began to work with the concept of still life, assembling thrown objects onto shelves, which referenced painters such as Giorgio Morandi and William Bailey. In his lecture, Irving will reprise significant events of his career and explore the meanings of the various changes that transpired along the way. The lecture will be held Thursday, February 25, at 7:30 pm, in Room 245, North Building of Emily Carr University of Art + Design at 1399 Johnston Street, Granville Island, Vancouver. All are welcome, and we look forward to seeing you there.