Clay collective 30 year anniversary
By Maeva Collins, The Potters Place
This year marks the 30th anniversary of The Potters Place gallery and we have cause to celebrate. This is the story of a small group of potters and artisans who came together in 1992 to form a collective, and succeeded in establishing a ceramics gallery in downtown Courtenay that serves functional pottery and ceramic art lovers locally, nationally and internationally.
Thirty years ago, an eclectic group of local artisans joined together to form The Potters Place at Tarbells in Cumberland in order to have a retail outlet for potters, artists and crafters. The following year they moved to Courtenay on Cliffe Ave and four years later moved to a small area of the Courtyard in downtown Courtenay. In 2005, after renovations, the Potters Place moved next door to a much larger space. Three of the original founders of the gallery are still working members and - amazingly - we have potters who are still potting at age 80.
Non-profit society supporting artists
In 2016, the Potters Place Gallery evolved into a non-profit society dedicated to promoting public awareness and appreciation of the ceramic arts, supporting ceramic artists by giving them an opportunity to exhibit and sell their work, awarding bursaries and helping potters in need. In 2017 we established the Robin Hopper Bursary for Ceramic Arts.
From the beginning, the Potters Place operated as a collective, not a co-op which, differs in the way they are set up. We have had up to 15 members, which meant that everyone worked two days per month and occasionally only one. For us, COVID was a real challenge. For a time, the gallery was operated by only six members. I think the fact that our six members were so willing to continue working and keep our doors open is a contributing factor to our longevity. The amazing power of positive thinking.
How the collective works
In addition to our days of work, we all have a job or two, or three. There is a treasurer’s position which is a shared position with someone looking after the day to day sales, a person who does the deposits and someone who calculates each potter’s monthly sales and writes those cheques and a person who mails out the cheques to consignees with their inventory information. We have a secretary (also a shared position), consignment manager, committees to serve on such as display, marketing, feature artist, guest artist, supplies, website, posts to Facebook and Instagram. We support and depend on each other to continue our success.
The gallery is magical
We have loyal customers to thank for our continued success, local and international. Our customers enjoy a one-on-one experience and the opportunity to learn about the mysteries of firing clay. The quality of the work is excellent and includes functional as well as ceramic art pieces. We have a vast variety of ceramics from electric, gas, salt, wood, pit fired to raku.
We continue to offer local potters a place to sell their work and at present, the Gallery carries the work of 30 Comox Valley and area potters, of which 11 are working members. After thirty years of existence the passion for creating with clay continues to flourish at The Potters Place Gallery.
For the month of June, we are having an exhibition of the work of our three remaining founding members and in July and August we are having an exhibition, “Art of the Garden” featuring work from current members of the Potters Place Gallery, consignment members and past members. The opening will be July 7, 3:00 to 7:00 pm.
See The Potters Place members’ work here