‘Feast of Pottery’

Tara Bradbury
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Functional dinner setting exhibit to celebrate Thanksgiving

Local artist Alexis Templeton is giving you something extra on the table to appreciate this Thanksgiving weekend. For the third year in a row, Templeton is presenting “Feast of Pottery,” an exhibit of functional dinnerware and serving pieces by ceramic artists, in the form of a table set for a meal.

Some of the artists have chosen to show a full place setting — dinner plate, side plate, goblet or cup — while others have chosen teapots, sugar bowls, milk and water jugs, or a centrepiece vase.

Templeton’s idea was inspired by the National Council on Education on Ceramic Arts, which holds a conference each year in a different U.S. city. More than 100 ceramics shows are held, she explained, and a regular one is a tableware exhibit.

Templeton, thinking it would be a good fit for a Thanksgiving event, opened her first Feast of Pottery show in 2010, inviting local potters and ceramic artists.

This year, she’s gone international, with eight Canadian artists and four American ones: herself, Janet Davis, Wendy Shirran, Isabella St. John, David Hayashida and Linda Yates from this province; Katrina Chaytor, a Newfoundlander living in Alberta; Laura Sheppard from Quebec; Malley Weber and Liz Proffetty from Maine; Deborah Schwartzkopf from Washington; and Careen Stoll from Oregon.

Artists are accepted by invitation only.

“Insisting on functional work does narrow it down a lot, because not everybody makes functional work, and then it’s usually a combination of me liking the work and having some connection with the person,” Templeton said.

“Deb Schwartzkopf, for example, arranged a similar show at the last (conference), which was in Seattle. I just happened to go to that show and she was there. I said, I organize a similar show, would you care to be in it? She astounded me by saying yes.

“I don’t do the show to represent everything that’s local — it’s not a show of pottery made in St. John’s or pottery that’s made in Newfoundland, because the craft council does that sort of thing really well. I love pottery and I want to just have a show of great pottery, and some of it will be from here.”

Templeton doesn’t particularly look for pieces that match well together to set her table; she gives free reign to the artists, and organizes the table in a way to make them fit. Each artist is welcome to submit more than one place setting.

Malley, who digs her own clay, has made a milk and sugar set, complete with tray and tiny worm-shaped spoon. An environmentalist, she’s interested in using natural materials and firing her work only once at low temperatures, in an effort to reduce her consumption of natural resources (she’s also currently working on a wood kiln and is hoping to soon start supplementing with recycled vegetable oils). Because of this, her work is full of small variations, which work well with her garden themes.

Proffetty has produced a large, pearlescent jug and cups with a landscape of lupins, done impressionist-style in soft purples, greens and beiges.

Chaytor, who’s the head of the ceramics department of Alberta College of Arts and Design, is displaying teacups, an ornate salt and pepper shaker, and a unique “flower holder” — part vase, part basket, formed with architect-like precision.

Templeton is displaying many pieces of pottery on the table, but still hasn’t quite decided which ones yet. A potter for more than two decades, Templeton often draws on ocean themes — starfish, sea urchins — and has developed a number of signature glaze styles and designs over the course of her career.

“I make tons of plates like this, and this one jumped out at me as the best ever from last year,” Templeton said, picking up a round plate done in shades of blue and green, with frost-like blueish-silver pansies near the edge. The flowers are the result of one of her signature glazes, she explained.

“It’s called a crystalline glaze. The crystals form in the glass as the piece cools. They start off as rods and then the rods fan out and keep fanning out into the full face of a pansy.”

Templeton has used a similar glaze on a rectangular serving plate depicting the northern lights, as well as plates done in collaboration with Davis. Davis, a printmaker, normally carves images in linoleum and puts them through a printing press; this time, she and Templeton use a slab roller to print her designs on clay.

The pair have made rectangular pieces with images of capelin and sculpins.

“The sculpin is new for this show,” Templeton said.

“People are very attached to sculpins. If you’ve ever fished off the wharf, that’s your childhood memory, catching sculpins. I think the sculpin’s going to be a big seller.”

Prices of the “Feast of Pottery” pieces range from $26 up to $350. Most things are priced individually, though there are some sets. Anything purchased will stay in the show until it ends, and then can be picked up.

“Feast of Pottery” is taking place at the new Quidi Vidi Village Plantation at 10 Maple View Pl. in Quidi Vidi, and runs from today until Monday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.



Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: Alberta College of Arts and Design, National Council on Education on Ceramic Arts

Geographic location: U.S., Alberta, Quebec Maine Washington Seattle Newfoundland Maple View

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