Wood and Ash
If you have ever been to Yellowknife you’ll remember the landscape. The city is situated on the north shore of Great Slave Lake, a body of water surrounded by rugged rock.
One look at the work by this month’s guest artist Astrid Kruse and you won’t be surprised to learn that she is from Yellowknife. Her pots are dramatic and rich, as compelling as the landscape itself. Here we find out more about how Astrid came to clay and how her environment inspires her work.
Meet Astrid Kruse
Q. What path did you take that led you to a career in clay?
I began working with clay by taking a beginner pottery class at the Yellowknife Guild of Crafts studio and since that day, I knew, I wanted to make pots for a living.
I worked at a local newspaper as a Photo Editor and made pots in my spare time. My day job was filled with deadlines and to escape from the pressures of the daily job, pottery was relaxing and also challenging.
Q. Where is your studio located? Can you tell us a bit about the space? How does it affect the ways in which you work?
My studio is located in a single car garage, equipped with wire racks, a large table, a wheel under a small window, pug mill, and an electric kiln. With less daylight in winter, it was important for me to have ample lighting in the studio space. I had LED fluorescent lights installed which, simulate a bright sunny day. This allows me to spend many hours working in my studio space.
Q: What are your favorite forms to work with? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I enjoy making vessel forms, but for the past 5 years have shifted my interest in making functional work focusing on bowls, cups, mugs, and plates. I am trying to push myself to make teapots, because I don’t make enough of them. My inspiration comes from my interest in being surrounded by nature. I enjoy spending time outdoors and exploring new topography.
Q: Looking around your local or provincial community can you name 3 other clay artists that should be on our radar?
Q. What particular technique or process are you most excited about right now?
Atmospheric firing, in a soda and wood kiln.
Q. What are a few of your most cherished tools?
I have a couple of metal ribs that I use all the time, for texturing clay during the throwing process.
Q. What learning environment has had a significant impact on your work? How come?
My work began to change profoundly during a yearlong artist in residency program at Medalta, The Shaw Centre for Contemporary Ceramics in Medicine Hat, Alberta. There I had the opportunity and freedom to explore and experiment with the soda firing process. I return once a year to Medalta to fire the soda kiln and continue my work.
Q. Do you have other hobbies – creative or otherwise?
I enjoy hiking, cycling and being outside in nature as much as possible. I sometimes take art classes to dabble in other mediums.
Q. Any events coming up that you’d like to tell us about?
Exhibition opening July, 2017 at Arthouse Carcross, Yukon.
My work is for purchase at Yukon Artist’s at Work Gallery and Arts Underground in Whitehorse, Yukon; The Art Gallery of Burlington, Ontario; Down to Earth Gallery, Yellowknife, NT, and I continue to ship work across the north.