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Community in Clay: Celebrating 20 Years of the Toronto Potters Biennial Exhibition

2 years ago

By Erin Wiley, Marketing Intern

Toronto Potters was established in 1979 to provide the local clay community with an organization that would showcase their work and the opportunity to learn from their fellow potters. Entirely volunteer-run, the association supports its members through workshops, classes, and sales—all in the service of promoting the unique talents of  ceramic artists in Toronto.

The Gardiner Shop has been hosting the Toronto Potters Biennial Exhibition on and off for nine years. In anticipation of this year’s exhibition, which marks its 20th anniversary, we spoke to artist and Toronto Potters member Susan Card to discuss this milestone year and where the organization is headed next.

This is the 20th Toronto Potters Biennial Exhibition. Can you give us a little insight into the show and makes this year unique?

Months before the Toronto Potters Biennial Exhibition takes place, expert jurors selected by the exhibition committee respond to the level of accomplishment and commitment in the pieces submitted for consideration. This competition is open to all members of Toronto Potters and is an opportunity to not only showcase one’s work, but to have it selected for special recognition by jurors through the awards programme. This year, there are works by twenty-four local artists from the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario that were selected by jurors Scott Barnim and Kathy Kranias. We are also excited to be collaborating with the Gardiner Shop for exhibition programming that celebrates The Year of Japan at the Museum.

Work by Caroline Bloomer

Speaking of Year of Japan, what can you tell us about that collaboration?

Our exhibition committee of two—Hana Balaban-Pommier and Brenda Nieves—have worked with Gardiner Shop Manager Adeline La to develop two programmes to support the exhibition. On our opening night on October 5, past Toronto Potter and award-winner Yumiko Sokyu Katsuya will teach us “The Way of the Tea” in a Japanese tea ceremony. On October 23, Toronto Potter and past president of Ikebana International Betty Walter has organized a group of four masters to give a demonstration of Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging. The Ikebana Masters represent four schools or styles: Ikenobo, Ohara, Sogetsu, and Misho. Both events are free and open to the public.

Work by Frieda Pereira

What do you think is distinctive about Toronto’s clay community?

Canadian culture in 2018 celebrates individual differences, abilities, and values. Pieces in the 20th Biennial Exhibition mirror our Canadian culture in that they continue to represent a wide array of attitudes, making styles, and methods of creating. To a great extent, economic lifestyle challenges in Toronto have necessitated that many artists work alone in private ceramics studios. The result is personal artistic exploration. Processes for sculptural expression and wheel techniques show notable individual diversity.

Work by Celia Brandao

What do you envision for the Toronto Potters over the next 20 years?

We are definitely starting to see a transformation in the demographic of the membership, which is becoming youngerer and is often made up of recent graduates from local art schools like OCADU and Sheridan College. This change must continue for the health of the association. Many new graduates living in Toronto do not have access to their own studio space due to high living costs in the area; we have recognized the need for affordable shared studio space in downtown Toronto.

What are some upcoming Toronto Potters events and programs to look forward to in 2019?

An exciting new venture we are delighted to announce is the opening of Toronto Potters Studio at Artscape Youngplace on October 1. We are inviting new members to rent our open studio space and students to fill our classes. A variety of studio classes, from pottery lessons for adults and kids in the community to professional development classes for artists will be offered, providing another platform for Toronto Potters to interact with the larger artist community and the public.

Our monthly meetings and Speakers’ Programme at the Gardiner Museum will continue on the fourth Tuesday of each month. We can look forward to presentations by Richard Mund, a master potter using the Maiolica technique, and a marketing presentation by Marjolyn Van Der Hart, a local painter with international art fair experience.

The Toronto Potters Biennial Exhibition runs from October 1 to November 15. Join us for the awards ceremony and public launch on October 5, and learn more about the free exhibition programming taking place throughout the month here.

To get involved with Toronto Potters, or to learn more about their new studio at Artscape Youngplace, visit their website.

 Header image: Sculpture by Rhonda Uppington [1] Sculpture by Andrea Poorter [2] Sculpture by Carolynn Bloomer [3] Bowl by Frieda Pereira [4] Sculptures by Celia Brandao [5] Sculpture by Brenda Sullivan


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