It has been inspiring to watch some of our local arts organizations reinvent themselves or find ways to pivot so they can carry on through the “Age of COVID.” The Thompson Valley Potters Guild is no different as the 40th annual sale faced cancellation at their original location. This talented group of 23 artisans managed to pull more than just their creations out of the proverbial fire this year.
As other events got cancelled, space came up at St. Andrew’s on the Square and while it is a smaller venue, the higher ceilings and natural light may end up being advantageous. Parking is also improved so regular attendees should not be deterred.
“Usually we have 19 vendors of which 12 are potters. We have a smaller venue this year with 12 vendors of which 10 are potters,” explains guild member Dan Condon.
With most of the traditional Christmas markets and craft fairs cancelled this year, the pottery sale anticipates a potentially high turnout at the Nov. 7 sale. It runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is free. There will be a limit on the number of occupants in the building at one time in accordance with B.C. guidelines. All customers will be required to wear a mask and there will be hand sanitizer available in multiple locations so people can handle the pottery.
The traffic through the show will be one way, but the exit leads to an exit ramp near the entrance so patrons can circle back in easily enough to buy that perfect item they passed up on the first trip.
Despite the smaller contingency of potters on hand this year, the sale promises to offer a good variety of both functional and artistic pieces. Members typically use a variety of clay – stoneware, porcelain, and earthenware to produce
functional and one-of-a-kind pieces. They also use many different firing techniques – electric, gas, raku, and pitfire which partly explains the broad ranging results.
“Most items are oriented to “Christmas gift” size and cost. No one (at the sale) would claim to be a well-known artist, but we all have a group of followers who come strictly to buy one vendor’s wares. Sheila Macdonald has work which is the most different from the other work in terms of artistry and sculpture and Glen Mantie always has a few unique pieces to surprise us with. I have butter dishes which exhibit a unique science property (they keep butter fresh on the counter) but otherwise are within the range of functional ware,” said Condon.
A little bit more of what’s in store at the sale includes a new potter to Kamloops. Louise Lencucha will be showing / selling pottery from Condon’s table. Lencucha recently moved to Kamloops from Terrace. She will be offering her decorated cups and bowls with two dimensional art work on wheel thrown and hand built ceramics.
“The biggest distinction between potters ...is whether they do hand building or wheel thrown pottery. I do pottery because I love throwing on the wheel so everything I make is based on a circle (or sphere). Sheila Macdonald doesn’t even own a wheel. The other distinction is whether a potter is purely interested in the form and glaze of the pots or they move to the more decorative application of detail in two dimensions on the pot surfaces. In rare cases, there is application of three dimensional detail to pottery. In other cases the pottery is completely free form sculpture and crosses over to ceramic art. In the end we have in common the clay and the firing,” said Condon.
“Many thanks to Anne Rurak, one of the vendors, for finding this venue for us and getting it started. She will also be in the sale with her wheel thrown work with amazingly intricate detail of outdoor scenes,” said Condon.
With something for every taste, the show will go on! Don’t forget your masks!