Monday, March 4, 2013

NC Potter's Conference

...a break from my studio work having just returned home from a weekend in North Carolina as an invited speaker (on the Pottery of the Ecuadorian Amazon), I am pleased to send in this report on the conference and the folks I met there. Beginning with a huge note of thanks to the organizers of the conference from the Randolph Arts Center (Director Derrick Sides, and potters Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke).

What a great conference, and equally great group of potters! Now in its 26th year, it was a healthy gathering of clay enthusiasts that welcomed everyone. The keynote lecture by Andrew Glasgow was fabulous, paying tribute to the long history of clay work in the state, and highlighting the importance of utilitarian pottery and how it serves to be part of a family history. A great speaker who delivered his message with passion, and demonstrated his love for the region, clay and its makers.

The demonstrators, Peter Beasecker, Julia Galloway and Tara Wilson did a superb job 'on stage', seemingly effortless in creating forms that were alive, creative and simply fantastic. The audience peppered them with relevant questions about their work, our field, and a sundry of other related issues that spurred on a lively dialogue between the demonstrators and their audience. I was mesmorized at times as I watched them work and listened to their thoughts on any issue that came up. Peter's thoughtful approach to clay, Julia's entertaining and inventive ways of working, and Tara's creative problem solving and ingenious approach to functional forms were a delight to see in action. What a great group of potters!

Face pots from the Pottery Center Museum in Seagrove

kiln junk yard

The last day's lectures by Peter Chartrand from Potter's for Peace, myself on the Pottery of the Amazon and Noah Scalin on creativity (and what a great talk he gave on the subject) all rounded out a three day event that went so well that by the time I left I felt so very comfortable in a new place surrounded by new friends.  This conference takes place every year (for the past 26) and while it is designed for NC potters, I would recommend it for anyone wishing to make the trek to NC and join in.  They typically have a strong selection of demonstrators and presenters, so you can count on next year's event to continue in that tradition.

Lastly, I was able to get over to Seagrove (the historic pottery community) and to visit the home of Dwight Holland (the man behind the development of the Potter's Conference).  The Seagrove area is fabulous in how it supports so many potters (I think they claim about 75).  It is weird to drive along and feel like you are in the 'yellow pages' under 'pottery'.  Every turn there is another sign on the road advertising the next pottery shop, and kiln stacks pop up here and there.  Not sure what it would be like to live in such a place, but being surrounded by folks with the same interests would certainly have its advantages (and dis-advantages too, I suppose?).  But it was sure fun to see it all, and from the ones I visited, it was time well spent.

As for Dwight Holland and his incredible collection of pottery, what can I say!  Forget the fact that he is a wonderful person to know, the one-on-one visit I had with him to view his collection was a pure delight.  I felt privileged to spend some time with him in his home, and to see his collection of ceramic pieces representing a who's who of contemporary ceramics.  He was so generous in allowing me to pick up any piece I wanted, and he knew about each and every one of them.  They are all precious for him, as they are for anyone of us who care deeply about contemporary ceramics.  And his collection is not limited to potters in the U.S. as he has numerous pieces from well known potters far and wide.  I think he told me he has about 2,000 pieces in all...amazing!  Again, a true delight, and it is no surprise to hear people in NC speak of Dwight with such admiration and respect.  A real treasure for NC, and beyond!

Anyway, a few images here to see, and now, I hope to get back in the studio real soon and turn my attention to the things I have stewing in my head and hands!

Ben Owen's kiln yard


Very large storage jar
Jugtown kiln yard

No comments:

Post a Comment