A colourful collection of pots, sculptures and plates created by the Cariboo Potters Guild has taken over the Station House’s Lower Gallery this month.
Entitled Playful Nature, this show is made up of 62 works by 28 artists of the Cariboo Potters Guild, one of Williams Lake’s oldest artist-based organizations. Members were encouraged to let their creativity and imaginations run wild while creating pieces for this show, which is evident from the moment you step into the gallery.
A wide array of fantastical and vibrant pottery creations line the walls and shelves with everything from unique pots, to wall sculptures and even tiny statues of colourful sharks. The guild wished to explore the “light-hearted, whimsical nature” that surrounds us all if people take the time to see it and that sense of whimsy is definitely evoked by many of the pieces. Artists used a wide arrange of colours, clays and techniques to bring their pieces to life with no two being quite the same.
The Cariboo Potters Guild was founded in 1967 by Anna Roberts and has since grown over the years to include potters of all ages and backgrounds. Currently, the guild is made up of 41 members of all ages.
For Roberts herself and fellow longtime member Joan Beck, it’s just amazing to see so many young faces in the guild lending their talents to this show. Roberts, as the founder, has been involved with the guild since its inception while Beck has been involved since the early 70s through thick and thin.
Using locally-sourced, natural clay that she dug herself in her youth, is something that Roberts has long been known for and continues to use to this day. She gets her clay from the Horsefly and Quesnel rivers, though some of her sources have since been lost to development over the last few decades.
“I first started making pots when my parents came from Quebec and said ‘look at all the clay you have in your backyard and the field’ and I started then on my mother’s suggestion,” Roberts said. “That was a long time ago, I came to Williams Lake in 1958.”
Even at close to 90 years of age, Roberts still sculpts local clay with her hands and makes her own glaze out of local rocks for her creations.
For Playful Nature, Roberts chose to create a burnished ware piece based off a collection of bones she found while on a walk through the woods.
Beck, meanwhile, is a thrower style potter, meaning she uses a potter’s wheel and specializes in the creation of bowls and cups. She said that it’s very satisfying to take a lump of clay and turn it into something new and unique.
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“It was just something I wanted to do and working with clay, it was so friendly, you can make things and then I started working on the potter’s wheel and that hooked me for sure,” Beck remarked.
However, for this show, Beck chose to forgo her wheel and sculpt a moose, using her own two hands. This sculpture of a cartoonish moose has red dancing shoes on and was just something Beck said “happened,” but was “fun to create.”
This show has made Roberts realize that there is a lot of new blood in the Cariboo Potters Guild, as she said she does not recognize many of the names on display in Playful Nature. Beck agreed and said she believes they’ve had over a dozen new potters join the guild within the last year.
“We’ve had an influx, which is really nice, of young people, well, we call them young people,” Beck chuckled. “I love to see new people come in and if their ways are different, or they’re interested in learning what I’ve got to offer them, that’s great.”