History of Ceramics in North Bay | Capitol Centre

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History of Ceramics in North Bay

By | June 14, 2021

In the 1960s there were just a few artists working in clay. They were
Delphine Large, Tootsie Pollard, and Mary Bon. There was a pottery club in
the 1970s. They had a kiln in the back of the West Ferris Arena.
Canadore College had some classes in Pottery in the early 1970s but no
formal program as such. One of the people who taught those programs
was Julianna Smith,

It was not until 1974 that Canadore College hired Jane Agnew to start a 2
year Diploma Program. Jane had already taught at George Brown College
and the University of Saskatchewan. It took Jane Agnew a year to get all
the program written, organized, and approved by the Canadore College
Board. It was approved for 1975. The program had the whole spectrum of
courses in All Throwing Levels, Hand Building, Sculpture, Kiln Building,
Raku Glazing and Firing, Glaze Technology, Glaze Application and
Decoration Techniques, Kiln Loading and firing in both Electric and
Reduction format, Mould Making, Design, etc. At that time, the students
were making and mixing their own clay bodies to work with.
In 1977 I was hired to fill the complement of two instructors. I had just come
from being the Head of the Ceramics Department at George Brown College
in Toronto. Jane and I made a good team because each of us had different
skill sets, technical abilities, different creating styles, and personalities.

In 1978, Canadore College’s Artsperience Summer School of the Arts was
created! This program had clay courses, sculpture, Design, Weaving,
Batik, Paper Making, Silk Screen Printing, Visual Arts, Music, Choral,
Stained Glass, and many more arts courses. Jane and I were part of a
group of artists who met with the College about starting a summer program.
I taught a variety of clay courses every year from 1978 to 2012.
In 1981, I became the Director of Artsperience and Head of Ceramics
courses until 2009. During this time, I hired the best clay instructors from
across Ontario and Quebec. Here as a list of a few of the top ceramic
artists: Dzintars Mezulis, Harlan House, Kayo Young, Donn Zver, Michael
Sheba, John Ikeda, Jim Louie, Judy Lowry, Karen Black, Richard Gill, Jane
Agnew, Sam Moligian, Steve Irvine, Mathias Ostermann, Zuszua
Monostory, Robert Tetu, and many others.

In 1981, Canadore suspended the Crafts and Design Program as a full time
program. It continued as a part-time program form 1981 to 2012. In 2012
Canadore College stopped offering part time arts programs. Artsperience
ended! It was a very sad. The programs drew students from around the
world and it helped to produce a top-notch arts community.
In 1988 I developed a 4 month Ceramic Technician Program at Canadore,
funded through Employment Canada. Pat Stamp was hired to team teach
this program with me.

A special thank you to the part-time teachers, including Pat Stamp, Sam
Moligian, and Cindy Giesler who have continued to step up to teach and
keep the clay arts going!

We remember the excellent pottery technicians, including Rosemary
Thomas, Dennis Wellings (deceased), Winn Nicholson, and Tony Oorschot
who kept the Pottery Studio running and making the teachers look good
and the students happy.

Since the Ceramic programs were not being offered, I went to Canadore’s
Vice President of Finance and asked if I could rent the Pottery Studio
Space with equipment at the College for a year. Canadore was in favour of
this solution, since they had no plans for the existing space at that time (but
they would in a year0. In 2012 the students in the courses were asking
what they could do to get studio access. To provide them with studio
space, I ran classes to March 31, 2013. I hired Karen Hall to teach night
classes for the year. During this time, many people were concerned about
what would happen next. I suggested that they should start a Potters Guild.
I arranged to use a room at the College to meet and move forward. That
was in April of 2013. About 30 students from the last few years attended.
We had a discussion and decided to form a board right then. The group
elected me as President (I did not want to be President. I just wanted to be
an advisor), the Vice President was Dermot Wilson, the Treasurer was Pat
Kirton- Bailey, The other Board members were Glenda Mikawa, Stacy
Caverly, Julie Patterson and Mary Lahaie.

We met a week later and the first thing we decided was that our name
would be “North Bay and Area Potters Guild”. Next, we had to register our
name and get a bank account. I donated $500.00 to get the ball rolling.
Next, we had to get the pottery equipment. I approached Canadore
College’s President George Burton and the VP Rich Peter. I asked if
Canadore would donate equipment from the old studio to our Guild. They
said they first had to offer it to Nipissing University. Nipissing did not want
all of the equipment. We received most of the potters wheels and tables,
shelving, chairs, glaze materials, glaze scales, wedging table, bats, and
other tools. We now had to find a place to store all of these items until we
could find a space and renovate it to be functional. Every one pitched in to
move and store this huge collection of equipment. Dermot Wilson found us
a spot with Tom and Geoff Richardson. They had a space at 128 Oak St E.
It was a shell and needed to be completely renovated. Tom and Geoff were
great and they paid for half of the renovations. It cost $20,000. We did fund
raisers and Dermot Wilson wrote the grants for us. Julie Patterson knew
some people, the City helped, and the Province as well. Lori Burns did the
architectural design of the space as well as the interior design colours and
layout of the studio!.

It took until the fall of 2015 before we could open and operate, offering
classes and studio space. The thing that we did not have was a kiln. I went
to the Canadore again and talked to President George Burton and Rich
Peters to explain our problem. They stepped up and bought us a brand
new large kiln from Tuckers Pottery Supply! Canadore College has been a
big Community Supporter of the Guild.

Now the Guild was able to start classes and workshops in clay. A number
of the members who paid fees for full time or part time memberships
stepped up to offer their skills and teach classes for adults. We offered
some children’s classes as well. Thank you to Stacey Caverly, Mary
Lahaie, Julie Patterson, Sylvia Anyinozzi, Mike Ivany, Betty Ackroyd and
me (if I missed anyone please forgive me; that was 6 years ago).
Thank you to all the members for the support through this difficult time. This
is a list of most of the people who stepped up to the end of 2016:
Dermot Wilson, Josee Bisson, Manon Dufour ( Board Member), Amy
Colby, Stacy Caverly, Zoe Caverly, Barb Griese, Kelly Johnson. Liz Lott,
Shawn Moreton, John McMartin, Rick Moynan, Karen, Nakogee, Anne
Pedersen (who became the President after me) Brenda Quenneville,
Allison Roberts, Lori Burns, Irys Steblynsky, Judith Ingwersen and
everyone that was involved, including partners and children for stepping up
taking on jobs. Thank you!

In addition to classes and workshops, the Guild had a number of Pottery
Sales from 2015-2016. They were very successful. We also mounted
exhibitions, such as the Canoe Culture Exchange Exhibition with the Deep
Potters Guild. During that time, we also hired James Thorne as an
intern/technician/manager for a year. Dermot Wilson applied for a grant for
the Guild and the grant was successful.

Over the years there had been three Fusion (Ontario’s Clay and Glass
association) Provincial Conferences held in North Bay at Canadore
College, plus a number of workshops with international renowned ceramic
artists such as Mick Casson (England), Gordon Baldwin (England), Kimpei
Nakamura (Japan), Jane Hamlyn (England), and Blue Corn (USA). Robin
Hopper OC (Canada) was there in 2006; this was the biggest and most
successful Fusion Conference. Canadore went all out with the red carpet
treatment. They brought in Native dancers and drummers for the Saturday
banquet. It was amazing I have to say.

Keith Campbell SCA
Artist in Residence Emeritus