Jennifer Galliott Weaves a Way of Life in Newfoundland

Jennifer Galliott Weaves a Way of Life in Newfoundland

I can’t paint every younger person with the same brush (although I would like to) but it gives me great comfort in knowing the future is in the hands of some of the younger people Gary and I have met along our journey. When we were in Newfoundland and Labrador it was recommended by two people that we go drop in on Jennifer Galliott. Jennifer is a tapestry artist, and she is also a potter and painter and gallery owner. She lives in Woody Point, right in the heart of Gros Morne National Park. At one time her grandfather owned a boat store for his fishing equipment which sat across the street from the water. Due to an unfortunate fire incident the boat stores across from his burnt to the ground. Eventually Jennifer’s grandfather was able to move his store across the street and it has sat on the waterfront ever since. This was significant not only for the convenience of accessing his boat and fishing equipment but also because nowadays it is the home of Galliott Studios and it’s quaint little cafe. Jennifer renovated the building that I imagine once smelled of ocean life, and turned it into a place where local art is on display for sale, including her own. It is also a place to meet, hang out and enjoy the breathtaking view from the deck that sits right on the water.

Inside Galliott Studios

Oceanside Deck

Jennifer struck me as a determined and ambitious young entrepreneurial artist. She graduated from art school in 2008 and she could have chose to go anywhere in the world to eke out a living for herself but she chose to come back to the small village of Woody Point, Newfoundland. Since then she has established a name for herself in the community and her studio and cafe has a reputation as the place to go and connect and seek out wonderful local art. She regularly brings in local Newfoundland and Labrador musicians for Sunday evening get togethers and has invited author readings in conjunction with the writers festival that comes to town once a year at the end of August.

We had a chance to spend some time with Jennifer and get to know her a bit. We all mutually agreed an interview was a great idea for the next day. Unfortunately we weren’t able to make it happen but Jennifer agreed to an e-mail interview along with some pictures of her work. Check out what she has to say about herself and her art.

AQ: How long have you been creating your tapestry? Jennifer: I’ve been weaving tapestries for 5 years now AQ: painting? Jennifer: on and off for years AQ: pottery? Jennifer: two years

AQ: Why did you choose these three mediums? Jennifer: I stumbled onto pottery when I found a kiln for sale for cheap online. After that my aunt gave me her kick wheel, and it kind of grew from there.

AQ: You took part of your art education in Alberta. Was it easy for you to decide to come back to Woody Point, Newfoundland and work as an artist? Jennifer: Yes. While I was away I made art largely about Newfoundland. The town of Woody Point is such a wonderful place people wise, as well as the natural beauty. Not only are both sides of my family from here, the town is also located right in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gros Morne National park, I don’t think it gets much better then this.

Jennifer Galliott

AQ: What challenges have you faced as far as establishing yourself in a small community like Woody Point? Jennifer:The town is very seasonal, also there isn’t a lot of money in small towns to be spent on a lot of art.

AQ: Are there some things you find easier being an artist here than in a bigger center? Jennifer: I’m surrounded by constant inspiration.

AQ: Please explain the process you go through when designing and crafting your tapestry? Jennifer: Before I weave a tapestry I first need to draw what is known as a cartoon. A cartoon is kind of like a blue print of what I will weave. It is a picture that is true to size and sits behind my loom as a guide to what I am weaving. Once this is done and sometimes coloured in, I then have to tie vertical strings known as warps, and make sure the tension is even throughout. Then the weaving starts.

AQ: What and/or who influences your designs? Jennifer: Mainly travel, being homesick, or home.

Tapestry in Progress

AQ: What advice would you give someone either thinking about pursuing an art career or someone who is fresh out of art school? Jennifer: Don’t give up. If there’s no work you just need to make some for yourself. Also learn how to apply for things and either enter yourself into nominations, or get a friend to do it for you. Also always ask for help you never know the huge amount of talent that could be around you.

AQ: What is the most gratifying aspect of being an artist in the mediums you have chosen? Jennifer: Being able to make an idea reality. I always try to push my limits and luckly don’t see the enormity of something until I’m in the thick of it. That being said I’m also very stubborn and no matter how long it takes I manage to finish what I’ve started. There’s nothing better then being able to look at something and think wow! I made that.

King’s Point Pottery

King’s Point Pottery

Above: The iconic Humpback Whales of King’s Point in a piece from “Whales and Waves”, King’s Point Pottery’s signature and award winning line of blue and white functional pottery.

Walking into a gallery off the street and asking the proprietors for an interview is a little bit like making a cold call; no preparation and little time to think about all of the ramifications, if any. Maybe not so dramatic, but that is how we sprung our proposition upon the owners of King’s Point Pottery, Linda Yates and David Hayashida. Without much discussion though, they graciously accepted our offer and we were on for the interview the next day.

Linda and David in front of King’s Point Pottery

Prior to our “announcement” Linda and David were busy with customers, and so that gave us time to wander around this charming gallery to peruse the art work of the 150 different artists and artisans represented here. There are potters, such as Linda and David, wood turners and carvers, jewellery makers, painters, glass artisans, jams, teas and chocolate, fibre arts, stone works and metal works. Their gallery, which once served the community as Linda’s father’s gas station, is pleasing to the eye and has been transformed into a wonder of architectural and creative ingenuity.

Linda and David’s accomplishments with their artistic and functional pottery are not just observed by the walk-through patrons of their gallery, but have also been noticed many times by the various art councils and organizations that distinguish and bring to the spotlight exemplary pieces of work that need to be honoured and shared with the public. Linda and David’s clay does not fall flat in this area! The most recent of these notable distinctions has been a nomination for Canada’s highest honour, the Saidye Bronfman Award for craft by the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is an award covering all the mediums, and over the last 30 years running has had only 6 winners in the ceramics realm. Quite a feat, and quite a testament to the beauty, creativity, heart and soul that Linda and David put into every one of their pieces.

The view across the street from the gallery

Linda and David’s passionate connection to the sea and it’s inhabitants are well represented in their work. For instance, Capelin, a small fish in the smelt family, is an essential part of the food chain for cod and other marine life. It has also been used for human consumption, pet food, bait and garden fertilizer. Over a ten year span Linda and David worked on a cast and carved mold of these little guys and now represent these important fish in their collection in the form of plates, dishes, platters and bowls. The next two photos below show some of their capelin mold creations:

Another tribute to the sea was borne in “Secret to the return of the cod”; an exhibit that Linda and David were invited to construct at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery in St. John’s, NL., with the image of a cod created within the 230 cups supported on a slut shelf (slut is a Newfoundland term for tin kettle). It was subsequently selected in 2009 to go overseas to represent Canada at a big international show in South Korea.

“Secret to the return of the cod”

Linda and David’s approach to promoting their pottery and the artisans within their gallery is one of a triple bottom line benefit. They actively promote the community of King’s Point and the local businesses and attractions within it. This promotion leads to a stronger tourist presence, and potentially new residents, which will help to sustain not only their gallery and the artisans that sell there, but also the continuance of the local businesses as well.

Linda at the wheel

David tending the salt/soda kiln

Although the other artists represented in Linda and David’s gallery were not there to promote their own work, as we strolled through looking at their creations we were very impressed as David was able to comment on each artist as if he knew them personally, the methods or techniques of their work, and even the historical significance behind a piece. It made a lasting impression on us knowing that King’s Point Pottery’s best interests are also reflected in the extra energy they put in to promote those other artists and the relationships they forge with them.

Click on the thumbnails below for a larger image of Linda and David’s work:

Please join us below with David Hayashida of King’s Point Pottery. Comments are welcome.

Pottery to Make You Smile from Megan Billings

Pottery to Make You Smile from Megan Billings

I have spent my former years playing it safe and found this strategy to be dull and dissatisfying. Now that I yearn for the chance to step outside my comfort zone, I am always excited to find someone who characteristically plays it safe but is willing to try standing in the heat. Megan Billings is one such person that Gary and I met in Upper Hainesville, New Brunswick. When we first arrived, Megan indicated that she came close to dismissing our e-mail request for an interview because it was definitely not in her warm and fuzzy zone. But like many unsubstantiated fears we humans have, she realized it was a good opportunity for her and so we received an e-mail reply.

Megan in her studio

Butter Dish

Megan has been a full time potter for about 7 years and appears to be as excited about it today as when she started. She converted a small barn on her parent’s farm where she grew up into a petite character pottery studio where she is content to spend the hours of the day throwing clay and creating what she calls pieces of joy. The joy she derives from creating a signature painted functional piece of pottery such as a tea pot or a bowl is clearly stated on each piece and brings a smile to her face as well as to others.

Megan’s pottery is of a simple functional style with two distinct pattern lines. For those who are typically more conservative but want to move one foot just to the other side of their comfort zone, Megan has crisp white glazes adorned with colourful brush strokes which chase each other across the plate or bowl. They say,” here I am”, but not too loudly. If you are the type of person who loves to run through a field of wildflowers singing at the top of your lungs then perhaps the “anything goes” colour line might be for you. It will definitely add an extra non-caffeinated kick to your cup of coffee in the morning.

Platter with dipping bowl

Although Megan says she is quite content to spend her time alone in the studio, she also loves the people the craft world has introduced to her. She says people are happy to see her and talk to her and there are rarely any of the tongue lashings that seem to occur in other career choices. Perhaps that is one of the reasons she creates “Happy Pottery”. Spread the joy!

Megan and her studio

Vincent Massey – Fine Functional Pottery

Vincent Massey – Fine Functional Pottery

If we weren’t here to talk about Vincent Massey and his remarkable pottery creations, it would still be easy to fill the pages with not only his prominent and famous family history, but also his own personal achievements outside the art spectrum. But these can be left to your own curious research, as pottery is indeed what we came to talk to Vincent about, and his work undeniably stands on it’s own as an enduring legacy of beauty and function to all those that have welcomed his pottery into their homes.

Pulling up to Vincent and his wife Cheryl’s home in Whistler, we are greeted by a timber-frame home built by Vincent 27 years ago. It is an evolution of the original structure with years of personal touches incorporating shapely driftwood and other eye-catching appurtenances. Vincent also has his studio, kiln and gallery on his property, three separate spaces representing the various stages of his creations. The studio developing the infant clay in it’s formative state, the gas kiln firing the piece up to adolescence, and the gallery showing the matured, finished work on display, showing it’s stuff for potential owners.

One of the first things that we noticed about Vincent’s pottery are the large vessels that he has masterfully created. That, combined with his unique glazes in vibrant blues, fuchsias and pewter colours to name a few, gives his work the individuality that creates a signature style of pottery all his own. We also enjoyed the tour of his studio, gallery, and just listening to Vincent talk about the process of his work in this idyllic mountain setting.

Join us with Vincent in his studio as he gives us a taste of turning clay on the wheel, and please feel free to leave a comment!

Kim Hancock – Arts Afire

When we first met Kim Hancock, there was this air of contentedness softly blowing toward us as she made her way across the lawn to shake our hands. Perhaps there was something in the air; it was a fresh and crisp fall day, or the beauty of where Kim and her family call home; an acreage just a short drive from Coombs on Vancouver Island and it was this that gave Kim the ability to blend in so well with her surroundings. She seemed to belong there.

She gave us a quick tour of her pottery studio and then we headed to her house where she introduced us to her paintings. After meeting Kim outside, I was not prepared for what I was about to see. Her paintings were big and carried a voice that yelled out,”look at me now!” Her work seemed to be alive and her colour palette jumped up and down like an energetic child on a trampoline. I kind of imagine Kim standing in front of a blank canvass conducting the paint with each brush stroke like a maestro conducting a symphony. Her energy and inspiration doesn’t come from any pulsating sounds, it comes from living in hot and exotic countries before her family life began and now it comes from living in a place where she has space to move and grow and so does her art.

As with many of the artists we have met thus far, Kim’s art is a part of who she is and not something she just does. She was explaining to us how her garden is home to many plant species that she loves to spend time with. She uses these fronds, flowers and leaves to imprint a timeless keepsake of her own backyard into her pottery. If you are ever on your way to Coombs you will see Kim’s sandwich board sign, Arts Afire, out on the highway. Stop in and visit her studio first hand.

Thanks for reading and please, we welcome any comments you may have.

Pamela Nagley Stevenson – Dragons, Flagons, Function and Form

Pamela Nagley Stevenson – Dragons, Flagons, Function and Form

Dragons, flagons, function and form is but a small glimpse of what Pamela Nagley Stevenson’s pottery embodies. Our interview with Pamela was a journey through the connectivity between her pottery, daily life, spiritual life, world art history and a dash of come-what-may. Pamela’s gentle, serene nature combined with the fiery passion for her life’s work is a potent mix that’s infused into every one of her pottery pieces and as she says, “sets a high standard for herself to ensure that no two pieces are alike.”

Come discover with us the fire breathing dragon, Our Bhava ULTRAEA, “The Ultimate Devotion”, and Pamela as its keeper fueling the beast to its crescendo of wood-fired pottery creations. You won’t want to miss our engaging interview with Pamela as she captivates us with the living, breathing world of her art form, and so for this, I keep my narrative brief and gladly give Pamela the floor.

Lance Hall Mixes Pottery with Pleasure

Lance Hall Mixes Pottery with Pleasure

One afternoon while sitting in a cubicle at the Nelson Public Library, Gary and I went searching on the internet for some more artists we could interview in the area. It was there that we came across Lance Hall and his wife Maureen McEwen from StillPoint Pottery. I remember checking out their web site and admiring their work but also commenting to Gary on their picture saying “they look like a fun couple”. We sent them an e-mail and Lance got back to us not too long after, expressing an interest in meeting.

Wonderful variety of vessels and urns

It was a week or so later that we found Lance at his gallery and studio in Slocan Park. Unfortunately we didn’t have the opportunity to meet Maureen but Lance welcomed us in and introduced us to his cats. Although Lance is an artist, it was quite clear upon meeting him that he is a business man as well. Many artists are passionate about what they create but for the most part aren’t interested in the mundane drudgery of the business and promotion side of their work. I can certainly understand how this could take the fun out of the creative process, however as one artist put it, you can’t just stock pile your work. There in lies the challenge, how do you stay in love with your creative outlet and earn an income without turning it into a J-O-B. I guess you can do what Lance and Maureen have done. They have a little building beside their house in the beautiful Slocan Valley where they work together full time. Each has their own pottery wheel that faces a window and looks out at the beautiful landscape. Why reinvent the pottery wheel so to speak, so Lance says although he and Maureen turn out many mugs on their respective wheels they always strive to add that individual personal touch through design modifications and unique glazing composition. This keeps the creative process fresh and fun. During their work time they listen to CKUA, take breaks when they want and enjoy a nice refreshing drink in the hot afternoon summer sun in their gorgeous back yard. This, to me, seems like a healthy prescription for mundane drudgery.

Gorgeous but functional

Check out Lance’s interview as he explains more about their pottery as a passion and as a business and we encourage you to leave a comment below.

Passion Builds Pottery for Geri Rinkel

Passion Builds Pottery for Geri Rinkel

Button Mugs

I love the stories of how someone decided to follow their dream or take a chance on a different life for themselves. Having done something similar, I find myself encouraging my family, my friends and people I meet to go for it. We’ve heard it all before; life’s too short, stop and smell the roses, you won’t know if you don’t try and on and on. You may find yourself going blah, blah, blah; that only works for some people but not for me. We can all get ourselves unstuck no matter what situation we find ourselves in and there is always a way even when you think there isn’t. I have come to realize that when you explore your creative side nothing becomes impossible to do, especially in life.

Gary and I have had the pleasure of meeting pottery artist, Geri Rinkel in the small, lakeside community of Kaslo in British Columbia. One day, Geri felt the overwhelming urge to make a lifestyle change. She and her husband are originally from Calgary but they fell in love with the Kootenay region after spending many years camping in the area. By deciding to make a lifestyle change, they equipped themselves with the necessary mindset and sold their home in Calgary and moved to Kaslo. Geri’s husband still works in Calgary but this is a necessary part of the transition they are making.

Geri standing next to her kiln at her home studio

Next, Geri found herself quitting her job. She has always worked in the art industry, helping artists with their own needs and all the while secretly wishing to explore her own creative side. It is so powerful how the words and actions of another person, in this case a grade 5 art teacher, can quash someone’s passion in the blink of an eye. Geri finally overcame her fear of being creative and finished a two year pottery program at the Kootenay School of the Arts a mere three years ago or so. In terms of years of experience with the art, she is a young potter and this has given her the liberty to experiment with all the techniques she learned in school. In my mind a bowl, a mug, a cup, a vase, and so on, generally carry the same characteristics. It is the personal additions such as the buttons on her button mugs and the earth inspired glazes which she mixes herself that gloriously accessorizes her pieces, and this is what makes them special. I am particularly excited with how Geri incorporates her pottery into something else such as the base she made for an antique oil lamp. I think it is wonderful that this talented and obviously creative person found her way on the art scene.

A selection of Geri's beautiful pottery

Please check out our interview with Geri and find out about her inspiring story as well as the pottery journey she took to the jungle in South America.