Saturday, December 17, 2016

Canoe Culture - A Series of Collaborative Workshops and Exhibitions Part I

As 2016 winds down I realize that if I want to record the significant pottery events that happened this year I really do not have much time left - so here goes!

What happens when the oldest potters’ guild in Canada meets with the newest? The Canoe Culture collaborative project! In 2014 the Deep River Potters Guild (1954) was contacted by North Bay artist Dermot Wilson, who shared with us the great news that they had just formed a potters’ guild in North Bay! And would we be interested in collaborating on a series of workshops and exhibits?

Dermot successfully applied for an Ontario Arts Council grant to help pay for the project and the Canoe Culture project was born. Its theme is based on the historic Ottawa River to North Bay paddle path used for thousands of years by North America's First Nation inhabitants and then by the voyageurs and settlers who followed in their wake.

The project brought together ceramic artists from our two communities in near-northern Ontario. How does the water route and history shape our vision of our sense of place? What do we see and feel when we look out over the river, when we go to the beach, or go out in our boats?

Opening exhibition in Deep River Library April 2016
The project included a series of hands-on pottery workshops. In the spring of 2015, North Bay potter Keith Campbell, gave a workshop in Deep River and Eva Gallagher, Ligita Gulens and Marg Killey reciprocated in the fall in North Bay, exchanging ideas, techniques and enthusiasm.

The project culminated with two month-long exhibitions of ceramic works created especially for this project The exhibits were juried by Pat Stamp, a North Bay potter, Cathy Walsh, a Deep River artist and retired Mackenzie High School art teacher and Dermot Wilson. The 16 artist show opened in North Bay in mid November 2015 at the Whitewater Gallery and in April in the Program Room of the Deep River Public Library.

The potter works ranged from canoes, the fur trade, a paddle, clay fish impressions to more absrtact ideas such as stretched beaver pelts and crows (representing the Jesuit missionaries). Unfortunately I do not have many pictures of the exhibits, but below are a few that I did mange to take of some of the other artist's works.

"Montreal Ghost Canoe" - Glenda Mikawa, North Bay

"Artifact -  Sir Samuel de Champlain Paddle" - Keith Campbell, North Bay 
"Voyageur" - Betty Ackroyd, North Bay

"Birch Bark Canoe" - Peter Brewster, Deep River

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