I am learning to speak my language of clay with simplicity. After many years of making pottery in the way I learned in high school and college – in a fully equipped studio, with a lot of equipment, and things, and stuff – I wanted to make my pottery with the clay I found here – right here. I am connecting to the place I call home and my community.
I am re-learning how to make objects in a simpler way – with only my hands, my brain, the earth under my feet, and a fire.
I could just buy clay – so why bother?
I want to make my work, like I cook my food – connected to the land,
I want to know and understand where it comes from. And I want to help others to know that they can make art with what they have on hand, with no need to buy special materials, or expensive equipment.
I want to understand how my choices affect my world. Like choosing local organic fruit, or planting a garden – I want the art I create to feed me and my community in a positive way.
I have explored urban parklands, local trails and coastlines. I dug into the geology and history of this city. I have scoured the internet and archives and found the brickworks and clay mines that provided the literal building blocks of Vancouver.
And in learning about the clay that many of our most iconic buildings are made from – I also learned of the stories of the people who worked that land and fired those huge furnaces to make the bricks.
And I learned about the land itself, and the first peoples of this land. Learning the original names of these places.
The very bricks under our feet and surrounding us – all have stories to tell.
During a 9 month artist residency in 2022, through St. Andrews Wesley United Church I was able to focus on this research – creating a body of work that connected my ceramic work with traditional land use, the urban industrial landscape and the stories of the people who built these communities. I created a series of ceramic cups – the quintessential grail – from clays used in historic brick manufacture that build many of Vancouver most historic buildings.
These cups, archival photographs, geographical information and stories highlighted themes of settlement, colonization, ownership, land use, gentrification and community.
This work is really about how we engage with the earth and with each other. I hope my work shines a light on how we built our communities. How can we move forward building, brick by brick, a healthier, more sustainable and just world.