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introducing...April Gates

Where do you currently live?

The beautiful Haliburton Highlands, Ontario

Tell us the best thing about that city.

...that it is not a city.

I like cities, for short periods of time, but fit best with rural life. We've got endless access to nature, as we are nearly surrounded by large tracts of protected lands - including the Frost Centre, Haliburton Forest, iconic Algonquin Park... with endless waterways & trails of all kinds to explore. There's also a highly engaged & creative community here. We're close enough to large urban centers, but not *too* close.

If you didn’t live there you’d love to live…..

Romantically, I'd like to spend an extended stay in a desert landscape.

Socially & politically, Denmark seems to have things figured out... livable wages, free education, work/life balance - so civilized!! So, while I love Canada with all my heart, I'd love to see us take some tips from Denmark and figure out how to be better to our land and ourselves.

Outside of ceramic art what other types of art/design/fashion etc are you drawn to and does it influence your work?

I'm a collector... textiles, mid century design, all kinds of vintage objects and materials in various stages of wear, layers of music, lyrics & prose.

If you couldn’t be an artist next best job would be:

Easy... a back-up singer!

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done in the name of art?

Abandoned the concept of regular/secure income in exchange for life as a craftsperson. It’s the most ridiculous, most challenging, at times - isolating, and to date, the best thing I’ve done in the name of art. Though at times it feels ridiculous, I can't imagine it any other way.

No cheating what’s the book beside your bed?

Dan Rubinstein's 'Born to Walk' inspire a return to ritualistic walking. It's working.

Also, latest issue of Uppercase, and Lawrence Hill's 'Book of Negros'. It's sitting there, and I'm aspiring to dig in.

If you could exhibit your work alongside any artist, alive or dead who would you want to show with?

Makoto Kagoshima

And, I see something lyrical. I'd love for some of my dead and living songwritters to be there... Nina Simone, Tom Waits, Dolly Parton, Joni Mitchel, Neil Young... and maybe I’m a back-up singer.

Name someone everyone should follow on instragram:

I'm fairly new to Instagram, but honestly, one of my first *follows* was @musingaboutmud. Carole's feed is a perfect blend of her personal work, shares and highlights of other ceramic artists, and really beautiful narrative shots of family life.

I love following @AyumiHorie's stellar, quirky action-filled posts... she sparks creative thinking.

I'm entranced by @Tortus_Copenhagen, Denmark's 'Craftsman of the Year'. I can't tell sometimes, whether the gorgeous pots are an extension of the arms, or if the gorgeous arms are an extension of the pots!

And, @potsinaction, of course ~ daily reminder of the diverse ceramics community.

Best tip you’ve ever been given on how to be an artist:

Don't Stop. Believin'. - Journey ;)

Favourite thing to listen to in the studio:

I need variety, so fluctuate between listening to the CBC, our local community station - Canoe FM, Podcasts, music collections digital & vinyl, and sometimes I like it quiet.

Creative blocks? How do you fix them?

Usually, with a time out - sometimes it's short, as in , dash outside for fresh air. Other times, it could mean a mini adventure - get out for a day or three. Hanging out with or writing to a friend helps. When I can't be productive in the studio, and can't get away, I will default to being productive in other ways, such as cooking, cleaning, organizing. These activities can be meditative, and also set me up for feeling well prepared for when it's time to jump back in.

Do you have a super power? If yes what? If no what super power would you choose?

If 'Tolerance for Ambiguity' were a super power, I think I might have that.

"Is the life of a principled entrepreneur for you? The answer to this question may come down to your courage and willingness to learn through trial and error—your ability to tolerate ambiguity..."

A fellow craftsperson & friend brought this Forbes article to my attention, and I've returned to it several times, 'The One Key Trait for Successful Entrepreneurs: A Tolerance for Ambiguity'. May 17th, 2012.

One goal, art related or otherwise, that you want to accomplish before you die?

El Camino De Santiago De Compostella, I've been burning to go. Timing is everything. I expect to be traveling this some day.

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