Holiday Sale!

Posted on December 11, 2015 in Uncategorized | No Comments

We’re almost there!  The holidays are always a busy time for potters and artists.  My work is available at the Boyce Market every Saturday and Sunday until Christmas, at the newly opened Buckland-Merrifield Gallery in Saint John, and my woodfired pieces are at Gallery 78 in Fredericton.

And…all my work (and Lee’s!) is on sale at 30% off online (including pottery and paintings), but only until this coming Sunday (that’s just two days away!).  The discount code (enter it at checkout) is XMAS30.

Happy Holidays! IMG_2165_lxs305 52ec 94ea 109E IMG_3298

Opening: Tea, East & West

Posted on August 28, 2015 in opening, Uncategorized | No Comments

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Our opening at the stunning Sunbury Shores Art & Nature Centre went beautifully, in large part thanks to a wonderful bunch of volunteers.  The gallery itself is gorgeous, and the setting is superb–I adore St. Andrews.  Lee and I are both so happy with our work, and the show.  It really is so gratifying when so much work, effort and energy pays off! Check it out if you can, on display until the 6th of September. The following is the write-up I did for the exhibition:

 

Tea, East & West: Pottery by Lee and Yolande Clark

Both the story of tea and the practice of pottery-making overlap continents, centuries, cultures and customs. The enjoyment of tea, in every society, traditionally involves ritual and ceremony of some sort, as well as the implementation of beautiful vessels.

No longer the fulcrum or catalyst for revolution that it once was, tea is nonetheless a quiet constant in so many lives globally, and is representative of the inevitability of transformation, and of cultural exchange.  Despite growing up on the opposite sides of Canada (I am from the west coast, Lee is from the east), in very different families, Lee and I both remember the soothing regularity of the pot of tea being made after supper most evenings.

We bring our own cultural heritage (Western, Canadian, English, woods, river, sky) to this work, as well as the commitment we have to our home in New Brunswick.  Many of the materials we use are dug from sites near where we live, and we are continually on the lookout for new sources for local glazes and clay-bodies.

Our ceramic work is also strongly informed by the Japanese tradition, both in terms of aesthetic and process.  This is possible not only as a result of our position as privileged artists in North America, nor exclusively thanks to the proliferation of images and resources and historical accounts that can be found online, but primarily because of the generosity of contemporary artists in Japan, and all over the world, who experience their own tradition as a living one, and who have given us their time, and their blessing as we pursue an art-form that may seem to many—especially in North America—as arcane.

The teabowl form is particularly inspiring to me and Lee.  Fundamental to the Japanese tea ceremony, the teabowl embodies the paradox of both structure and spontaneity.  Working within the long-established boundaries of the morphology of the chawan (teabowl), Lee and I both find a sense of artistic freedom and creativity; a lifetime of opportunities to explore and to riff on a beautiful theme.

As always, we find that using pottery made by hand elevates the mundane, bringing poignancy and a touch of liturgy to the everyday.  We hope you enjoy our show.

Finale!

Posted on August 11, 2015 in anagama, firing, Uncategorized | No Comments

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Well, we finished with a bang!  And with a sense of togetherness, which is always nice.  Bangs sometimes engender solidarity, and when I instructed Lee to run up and close the chimney damper while I was finished up the kibuta (wood-pig: this is when we stuff the firebox full of wood for a final, dramatic reduction), I hadn’t quite counted on the obvious result that would be the fire desperately clawing at the one remaining opening.  Flame immediately began to haemorrhage through the front opening. I calmly asked Lee to come back down and give me a hand, because of course I fumbled the $*#& door  (which for years hasn’t worked properly, just a constant rotation of old kiln shelves hung up with that *$&# wire, and eternally cracking and having to be replaced mid-firing).  The wire ended up just disintegrating before the end, and so we came up with something else.  I *knew* that broken shovel had to be good for something!  I received quite a significant burn on my face, and was blinded for several moments, while scrabbling around in the dirt trying to find bricks to stack up against the firebox door.  The fire bled out,  searching for something, looking for me.

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Horus  had fallen asleep, and slept through the whole finale,  a few feet away, cozy, apparently.

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When we got everything under control, and had sealed the cracks and fissures of the kiln with slurry, Lee and I just had to giggle.  Well that was fun!

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I’ve been hacking up black phlegm for a few days now.  I’m sure that will pass. Hardcore.

New Work from the Electric Kiln

Posted on August 6, 2015 in New Work | No Comments

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I am ridiculously excited about this new body of work.  I’ve been dreaming of this stuff for years, and it just sort of appeared in the kiln…So far, the reception to the work has been very warm and enthusiastic. Some of the smaller works from this series will be available at the Beaverbrook Gallery shop through August and September.

Blue Moon Firing

Posted on August 6, 2015 in anagama, Uncategorized | No Comments

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We started the fire right after the blue moon, and in keeping with the vow that I continually break, of not saying anything if I don’t have anything nice to say, I won’t go into great detail as to the intense level of disorganization and ridiculousness that once again punctuated and, well, defined, in many ways, the launch of this firing.  Too many times I have said *never like this, again.  Never again*, only to capitulate when the deadline looms, and the kiln has to be packed, and I discover once more that the only welding gloves we have are desiccated, shrunken and barely usable, we have lost the welding suit, we have no crew, and the door still hasn’t been replaced properly.  I start to think that if I want something done I’m going to have to do it myself.

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The young filmmaker arrived while I was stoking, right after the third kiln-shelf-door had disintegrated in my hands, causing yet more minor burns, and major irritation.  How do you maintain your relationship, seeing as you’re both artists? He asked, innocent of the drama that had occurred immediately before his arrival.  The only answer to this question is that I’m in love with him, still, always–because god damn, sometimes I really can’t deny that this is pure and utter madness.

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I was especially annoyed that in the haste of loading the kiln, I wasn’t able to inspect the final configuration of the firebox.  Yes, I had said just put my work wherever.  But I didn’t anticipate that he was going to completely ignore the long-standing request I have had for many years, to at least not put *only* my work in the armpit of the firebox.  Is there any competition between the two of you? The filmmaker asks.  Oh gosh no.  We’re just occasionally completely at odds.

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After I broke down and posted the snippy comment on a Facebook thread of his in response to what I perceived as his passive aggressive erasure of me, and his self-indulgent luxuriating in the fact that he did a thirty-five hour shift that could have been entirely avoided with just a little bit of forethought and planning, we had an argument under a canopy of the creamy froth of reduction smoke as it swirled around our heads.  When you post shit like that, you really come across as a real bitch you know, he said, and I hurled back, Oh Yes, I know, and I’m *Fine* with that.  How else do you think I’m still *ALIVE*?

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I constantly struggle with what it means to be a woman artist, a mother artist, a wife artist.  Constantly failing at everything, constantly failing at the project of being dignified and gracious.  Acknowledging this reality is being difficult.  Refusing to accept this reality is bitchiness, and worse.

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After everyone left, he and I sat together in the gathering dusk, and talked about when to close the kiln down, and how to approach cooling, and the trip to St. Andrews to deliver the work to Sunbury Shores.  I finished my stoking shift, and he took over, and we remarked on the luscious layer of glaze that, we had to admit, looked incredibly promising.

Back At the Wheel

Posted on May 24, 2015 in In the Studio, Uncategorized | No Comments

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These are the “before” pictures. In my never-ending quest to become an grown-up, responsible, functioning adult, I have acknowledged that (despite all evidence to the contrary), I find it very difficult to work in a filthy disgusting environment.  My husband and I have been sharing a pottery studio space for almost ten years now.  But due to a number of factors, including babies, winter, and other work, I only just recently got back into a routine of making.  We have big plans for this summer:  a new kiln, another firing, a show in St. Andrews in August. When I entered the studio for the first time in months, at the beginning of May, I had to acknowledge that the state of things had reached a critical threshold.  There is, apparently, no level of mess (of any kind!)  that will deter my husband from his creative endeavours.  Good for him. What a brilliant artist he is. Etc.  But I can’t take it anymore.  A recent devotee of Konmari (go read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying”, really), I had to do something. Sigh. The “after” photos aren’t ready yet, and I’m not sure they ever will be…but things do look better now, than what you see above.

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Every time I come back to the studio, after a period of absence, there are inevitably those first days (sometimes many days) of making during which I realize that it’s gone: my ability, my technique, my understanding of the material, any talent (however illegitimate or tenuous) I might ever have had.  This time, I spent three weeks throwing cups ad nauseum, with the devastating knowledge that *I’ve lost it for good this time*.  I started five or six large pieces, all of them collapsed, destroyed, hated.  I screamed and swore and threw things at the wall.  It’s a good thing, in some ways, that my husband and I have been on the outs for so long.  I think if he hadn’t, during one of our recent fights, stood in the kitchen and said “You know, you *could* be a good potter if you actually spent some time in the studio”, I  might not have had the determination, this time around, to force myself to just enter the studio, over and over and over again.  Resentment isn’t so bad.  I really don’t know where I would be now without anger and resentment.  They aren’t sustaining, I know that.  But sometimes there is no better catalyst for, at least, an initial show of force, action, determination.

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After two weeks of getting nowhere, I had basically given up.  But hell: just go down there one more time.  Surely the body remembers what it loves.  I sit at the wheel to begin another large piece, and somehow as I place the first coil, and throw it, I can feel immediately that the angle is just right. It floats up with a smidgen of grace.  There are my hands, doing what they need to do, to make this thing rise like bread.  I leave the pot to harden up before attaching the last several coils, and I sit down at the other wheel to throw some tea cups.  Centre, throw, rib, wire.  Nothing easier. Off I go.

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