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Uxbridge Ontario potter & ceramic artist Vanessa Slater loves making functional pieces that she knows will be enjoyed in someone's hands. "When I go to a friend's house and see a bowl sitting safe high up on a shelf, I feel like it's gone there to die. I want people to enjoy using my pottery. If it breaks I can always make you a different one!"
- Interviewed by Lesley Wilkins
Q. WHEN DID YOU FIRST START PAINTING?
I began in high school during evening classes in the West end of Toronto.
Q. TELL US ABOUT THE FIRST PIECE THAT YOU WERE REALLY HAPPY WITH.
At about age 17, I participated in a couple of Raku workshops which were very exciting. I fired a piece with an dramatic copper lustre on it which I was really pleased with. I remember thinking that it could pass for a piece of art by a real artist.
Q. WHAT MEDIUM DO YOU WORK IN PRIMARILY?
I work with different kinds and colours of clay. All of my work is functional.
Q. DO YOU HAVE FORMAL TRAINING?
I have no formal training. Yet!
Q. WHAT DOES THE PROCESS OF MAKING ART DO FOR YOU? OR HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL?
The process of making rejuvenates me. After I spend some time in my studio, no matter the result, I always feel great. I often feel that I have to steal time to create pottery because I have other commitments such as a day job and kids, for example. Consequently, I spend lots of time outside the studio pondering what I might try next, letting ideas come into my mind until I have time to try something out. Making pottery ultimately makes me feel more rooted, less "in my head", and happy because when I'm in my studio I'm creating something.
Q. ARE THERE ANY RECURRING THEMES IN YOUR WORK?
I like texture, the juxtaposition of rough and smooth between glazed and unglazed areas. I also love bold colours and have been drawn to using blues and turquoises for a few years now.
Q. HOW DO YOU GET INSPIRED TO START A NEW PIECE?
I look at the clock and say "I've got three hours to myself, get in there!". Seriously though, I find that through experimentation and accidents, I follow new paths I hadn't even intended on exploring. There are times when I have pulled something out of the kiln and thought "this could lead to something..." and then I work from there, either adding to existing pieces or starting all over again with this new discovery in mind to try on a larger scale. Other times, I'm inspired by nature such as shell textures or water and I attempt to transpose these forms in someway onto my pots.
Q. WHERE HAS YOUR WORK BEEN SHOWN?
I used to show my work at Meta 4 Gallery in Port Perry and have I've been fortunate enough to be on the Uxbridge Studio Tour for a few years now as a guest artist. I'm also involved in the Handmade in Uxbridge Christmas show which is fabulous too.
Q. WHERE CAN WE SEE YOUR WORK?
Catch me at the 2016 Uxbridge Studio Tour at Francis Muscat's studio! .