Many ceramic artists in North America are familiar with the Artstream Nomadic Gallery that has been putting contemporary ceramic arts on the street since 2002. The brainchild and founder of Alleghany Meadows, studio potter from Carbondale, CO, the artstream travels extensively across the United States educating and placing contemporary studio pottery into the hands and home of Americans.
I met Alleghany at an Archie Bray workshop back in 2004, was stoked on his idea and asked him whether he’d be willing to bring it up to Canada? Well, if you’ve ever tried to ship, courier or transport pots across the 49th parallel, most potters know the hassle that it can sometimes be. Imagine now a whole trailer full of commercial goods trying to cross the line!?! Alleghany encouraged me back then to create a Canadian version and now 13 years later, FORM: Mobile Contemporary Gallery has hit the streets.
My initial thought was to renovate a vintage 1959 Flying Cloud Airstream trailer to serve primarily as a showroom and gallery space for my ceramic art on my property in the Slocan Valley. Throughout the process of this renovation project and in my role as a contributor and educator of contemporary ceramics, I remembered Allegheny’s encouragement. I realized that significant opportunities exist in Canada to promote and build awareness of ceramics by taking advantage of the mobile aspect of this unique show space. By having the means to showcase in this distinctive setting, a ‘mobile gallery’ offers versatility and the ability to create further discourse and engagement around ceramic art in a unique way to new audiences by taking it on the road.
I was asked by the organizing committee of the Canadian Clay Symposium to participate in the 8th annual conference scheduled for March 2017 in Burnaby at the Shadbolt Centre. My intention was to bring attention to the excellent works of some of my fellow ceramic artists that are contributing to the field of ceramics by including them in a mobile gallery exhibition.
The exhibition showcased the work of myself alongside Martin Tagseth, Carole Epp, Sarah Pike, Martina Lantin, Chris Watt and Katy Drjber. I saw it as an opportunity to extend to other Canadian ceramic artists, for them to access an increased audience and market for their work, and to ultimately contribute to the burgeoning fine craft industry in British Columbia.
The field of ceramics and fine craft relies heavily on shared knowledge. Ceramic conferences bring together educators, students, professionals and enthusiastic clay hobbyists to share practices and inspire ideas to advance the field. After arriving home from two back-to-back ceramic conferences this past spring, the Canadian Clay Symposium and NCECA, I came back feeling pretty assured and excited about those projects that promote and educate about excellence in contemporary ceramics both here in Canada, and around the world.