Ceramics News

Gallery of BC Ceramics, Granville Island

Just the other day BC potters received very sad news from the BC Potters Guild board’s president, Laura Carey. It has been decided that, due to falling numbers of customers at our gallery and ever-increasing rent, the Gallery of BC Ceramics will close at the end of February. The same email invited us to last Thursday’s opening for past-president Jinny Whitehead’s solo show. It will be the last show there, and it’s fitting that Jinny’s work is featured. Sadly I had a bad cold and couldn’t go.

Of course we potters have been communicating with each other and sending replies to the gallery, and all feel somewhat devastated by this closing. I for one plan to go in to Granville Island next Tuesday evening to learn more about how and why this has happened and to see if there are ways we can keep the BC Potters Guild viable and relevant to our members. I shall also have the chance to see the current show.

‘We are calling a Special General Meeting for all members to
discuss our situation, taking place on Tuesday February 6th at 6 pm at the
Gallery of BC Ceramics. Please RSVP to staff@bcpotters.com if you wish to
attend the meeting.’

The announcement didn’t come as a surprise as the board have warned us for several years about falling revenue and increasing rent. They and the gallery staff have made impressive efforts to diversify our customer base and stage special events in the gallery. Now it’s time to remember and be grateful for the wonderful 31 years of showing ceramics that the gallery has provided for us BCPG members, and for the Vancouver, BC and World-wide visitors who’ve found it. For the lucky potters who have been represented by the gallery it will leave a gap in our opportunities to show and sell our work. Over the next months we’ll see what evolves to take up that gap.

It was good news when the BC Potters Guild found a way to establish the gallery on Cartwright street, on busy, tourist-friendly, Arts-oriented Granville Island. It took the place of the earlier House of Ceramics in downtown Vancouver which had been established and operated by BC potter Hiro Urikami. As a somewhat beginning potter I was pleased to join the community at the new gallery by volunteering to join the monthly group who stuffed the newsletter into envelopes and mailed it. (There’s a time warp, and good memories Jan Kidnie).

Later when I was attending Emily Carr College of Art & Design (as it was in 1991-94) it was so convenient to pop into the gallery a block away. The gallery hosted a couple of solo shows for me, one shortly after I graduated and another, ‘Ornithikos’ which introduced my Jugbirds in 2003. The gallery staff have always been so helpful with advice on what to show and pricing. Its other function is to display and celebrate the history of BC Ceramics, and it is this that will be difficult to continue without a physical space.

On that topic I plan to drive over to the West Vancouver museum next Saturday February 10th to see a collection of work by Thomas Kakinuma and hear a panel discussion. Kakinuma was a much-loved pottery teacher to some of the founding members of BC Potters Guild when he taught in ‘The Pottery Hut’ at UBC in the sixties. I hope that Debra Sloan won’t mind my copying her description of the show and biography of Kakinuma from this month’s newsletter.

The Ceramic Art of Thomas Kakinuma

by Debra Sloan

EXHIBITION runs through to March 10, at the West Vancouver Museum, 680 17th Street, http://westvancouvermuseum.ca

PANEL DISCUSSION: Thomas Kakinuma in Context on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2 p.m. SPEAKERS: Debra Evelyn Sloan (ceramicist), Dr. Carol E Mayer (curator), Allan Collier (curator/collector) and Stacy Laviolette (collector)

“In pottery, the designs come from painting, the forms from sculpture, and we have to know the study of chemistry, too. It’s a very complex art.” 1 | — Thomas Kakinuma, 1969

Thomas Kakinuma (1908-1982) is an intriguing figure in British Columbia’s ceramics history. He was a highly regarded potter and sculptor in the 1950s and 1960s, and throughout his working life he received recognition across Canada and internationally. With renewed attention and focus on Mid-Century art and British Columbia craft, this exhibition examines Kakinuma’s role as a teacher and producer of era-defining ceramics illustrating his significant contributions.

Born and raised in Japan, Kakinuma immigrated to Vancouver in 1937, intending to become an artist and to eventually study in Paris. World War II interrupted his plans and he ended up in Toronto where he studied painting and drawing at the Ontario College of Art (OCA). He graduated with honours in 1947, then studied painting under Yasuo Kuniyoshi at the Art Students League in New York. After rejecting painting as a viable career, he turned his attention to ceramics, studying again at OCA and then at the University of British Columbia, where he would later teach ceramics at the Pottery Hut. While Kakinuma produced a variety of wares, he was well-known for producing small and endearing figurative works, such as cats, penguins, fish and birds. He preferred, however, to produce large sculptures and abstract pieces. “The birds are quick to produce and easy to sell… but I would really like to work on a one man show, rather than making small items for stores”, says Kakinuma.2 His sculptures were included in a number of important exhibitions and were featured in Centennial Sculpture ’67 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, which was organized by the Federation of Canadian Artists.

Kakinuma won several awards including a Canada Arts Council Senior Fellowship grant in 1960 to study in Japan and Mexico: his works from this time reflect his experiences fusing both Japanese and Mexican influences. In 1962, he won a silver medal at the International Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics in Prague.
The Ceramic Art of Thomas Kakinuma is the artist’s first substantial retrospective offering a rare opportunity to see works from public and private collections. The exhibition is organized by the West Vancouver Museum, in collaboration with the Kakinuma Family, Debra Evelyn Sloan, Dr. Carol E. Mayer, Allan Collier and Stacy Laviolette.

1 Thomas Kakinuma, as quoted by Eileen Johnson, “A Potter of Birds—He’s the Possessor of a Marmalade Cat,” The Vancouver Sun, September 8, 1969.

2 Ibid.

A third pottery item:  The speaker for TriCity Potters’ monthly meeting in February is Malory Tate.

At our next meeting, February 21, 7 pm, Port Moody Art Centre, our presenter will be Malory Tate.
Malory Tate was born and raised in Kamloops. In 2016, Malory received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Major in Ceramics, from NSCAD University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Malory is presently the ceramic artist in residence at the Port Moody Art Centre.

Malory Tate

All are welcome to join TriCity potters. Malory will give a presentation on her work and will have several pieces to show us. I’m really looking forward to that evening.



One Response to “Ceramics News”

  1. Jan Kidnie

    Feb 04. 2018

    Brava! Gillian, for taking time for this. Hope to see you on the 10th

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