Where is your studio located? How long have you been there? What's one of the perks of being a maker in that community?
I work out of my home in Horseshoe Bay, BC. Ten years ago I built a salt kiln and kiln shed in my yard, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to explore salt-firing and develop my work here. However, we are selling our house and my work situation will be transforming this year – not quite sure how it will all work out, but I am hopeful I can find a spot for a new kiln. In any case, I am excited about exploring other ceramic practices. I’ve given myself a year to set up a new studio and do some experimenting, maybe even take in a residency or two.
I will miss the Horseshoe Bay community – it’s a mecca for clay artists; Sally Michener and Tam Irving live down the street, and Gleneagles Community Centre has a thriving studio developed over the last few decades by Ronda Green and Ronna Ander.
Another potter, Helen Weiser and I have organized the Horseshoe Bay Art Walk for the last five years, a hugely successful day that generates more sales for me than any other event in the year.
Can you tell us a bit about one of your mentors, someone without who you likely wouldn't be a ceramic artist.
Ronda Green was my first throwing teacher at the community centre when my kids were little and I needed to be creative. Then Sam Kwan who taught me at Capilano College for several years and gave me free rein with the salt kiln there. Probably the person who had the biggest impact in a short moment was Micki Schlossingk from Wales – I attended an artist talk of hers and loved how she spoke about salt glazing and functional pots. It really resonated with me and I focused on salt from that point. Kelly Austin has also been a great friend and maker to bounce ideas off, and her work is an inspiration.
Looking around your local or provincial community can you name 3 other clay artists that should be on our radar?
Kasumi Lampitoc on Galiano Island – her work is quiet, but the details are thoughtful and the glazes rich and gorgeous.
Sam Knopp – we had a show together last year and I really appreciate her risk- taking, her aesthetic, and her fine finishing.
Grace Lee- her playful, elegant pots meld form and decoration perfectly
Would you describe your work as having any inherent "Canadian Aesthetic"? If so can you describe how you might perceive stylistic trends in contemporary Canadian Ceramics.
I think my work has been influenced by Sam Kwan and the Leach/Hamada tradition that Sam’s teachers brought to BC in the 60’s and 70’s. My salt glaze surfaces certainly echo their pots as well as my focus on function and simplicity.
What are your favorite forms to work with? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I love to make bottles, jugs, cylinders, narrow cups. My oil bottles are fun to make because each one has different attachments and surface patterns. My inspiration comes from thinking about function, looking at other pottery, historical and contemporary and all kinds of tools and functional objects.
Can you retell one of your favorite stories about being an artist?
One of my favourite moments was during a Christmas craft market. A little boy about 8 years old, dressed in a suit and tie, zeroed in on some little salt-glazed eggs I was selling – “choose your own 3 eggs and nest”. He didn’t say a word for the long time he was there, carefully looking at each egg and making his selection. I was touched by his obvious appreciation for the variations in each one. I hope he still loves them!
Were there any hard challenges you had to overcome in your career? What did you learn from mistakes or challenges? Could you offer some advice for others who are trying to have similar success as makers?
The year coming up may be my most challenging. Trying to find a way to make work, keep my business going, develop new lines – it’s all daunting.
It has been financially unsustainable to make salt-fired work, especially in Vancouver. The real estate required is too expensive, it’s labour- intensive and equipment heavy. Salt-fired work has a limited audience and is not suitable for volume production. So it’s the usual potter complaint – it’s hard to make any money! But I love it.
Favorite artist, ceramic or otherwise?
No one favourite of course, but here is a short list: Byron Temple, Betty Goodwin, Mark Pharis, Mary Cassatt, Chris Weaver, Do Ho Suh, Pru Venables, Joel Schapiro and many more.
What's on your playlist in the studio? Silence, music, podcasts?
CBC a lot but also Tales of a Red Clay Rambler – podcasts are a great invention for us potters all alone in our studios.
Find out more about Jackie on her gallery page, or shop her make and do store the whole month of May here.