life's short...
I have always been a maker or artist... Most recently educated in Alberta College of Art + Design’s Jewellery + Metals program, I am also a graduate food science/physiologist, teacher, and public health researcher by training. As a teen, I worked in clay and rode ponies, one act financially supporting the other, until I left home for university. I never stopped drawing reading sewing making…anything and everything that came my way. I make what I love to use and to wear. Thank you for reading this far - life’s short, and nothing happens unless we make it.

the longer read... why make?
I make what I love: art objects, jewellery, small metalwork, and dishes for the kitchen. Work that I want to live with in my own home and share with friends and family. My pieces often include social ideas that inspire or trouble me, and my science and continuing art education feed this - constantly questioning “why?”. Often a new idea will mean a lot of research, or I will make new tools, because that deeper exploration of how things work will allow me to expand what I am able to express; maybe I will be able to ask something different from my materials and environment, and there will be new things to notice along the way—that’s how a lot of ‘the look’ in my work occurs, because I noticed something, and then pushed to see where it might lead.

I mainly hand-build in clay. I really like the rhythm of having a number of pieces underway, working with the clay’s moisture (lost very rapidly here in Calgary) and physical ability to hold itself up, so that a form evolves over time. I get to reflect, and respond. I recognized that metal was an essential next material for me specifically because it is so very patient! Pieces can be sampled, stared at for weeks, ignored, returned to with new inspiration. And the material is just as malleable as clay, it just has a different vocabulary of tools.

I love to work clay in low bas relief, and started studying the very ancient metal relief techniques of chasing and repoussé whilst at Alberta College of Art + Design. This led to approaching Calgary artist Jeff de Boer for mentorship in developing my skills, post-college; and it brought drawing back into my daily routine, designing chased metal pictures.

I rebuilt my studio to allow a workflow that, so far, moves interchangeably between metal and clay. Wood for display and presentation is key, and I work with a talented Calgary sculptor and wood-worker who builds my wooden picture frames, which I then hand-finish to suit the piece.

For clay commissions, I usually encourage using local clays, so that the piece is really from Alberta. Elsewhere, I tend to explore every clay available, always returning to my main squeeze: delicious porcelain—in bright colours or in the white, juxtaposed with earthy wood-fired pieces. I love to cook, to grow an edible garden, to share food, and I want that food to be able to stand out, so glazing and decoration tends to follow that purpose. I have created an archetypal design that I am pursuing, “Ones and Zero’s”, that speaks to me of a variety of important influences, and how I feel as a 21st century potter, as someone who has the privilege to hand-build their own kitchenware: the simple straight line and a circle can represent my love of landscape, the sun or moon on the horizon; the motifs can be used to structure the surface of a form, like traditional bands or cartouches; and they are iconic of our digital age, it’s all ones and zeros - maybe the decoration includes a message? (One of the bowls is actually coded with an estimate of the breakfasts that a white Canadian female is likely to enjoy in her lifetime, in the one’s and zero’s of base 2). The design also holds another important reminder for me, a layer of social comment on the growing inequalities of modern life between the haves and have nots, the societal one’s and zero’s.

My work is heavily influenced by having grown up in Cornwall, and I lived in England until I was 31— surrounded by massive, aged stone, and intense textures, tudor and medieval structures, richly coloured stained glass church windows—so that I think my work often looks as old as it is new. But I do embrace the new, for example, working with digital resources like the amazing open-source design tool Blender, I am able to create parts that I cannot make with my range of hand tools, in my studio. Digitally designed, cast metal parts still feel most definitely ‘mine’ because it is the ideas that dictate how or why to employ this tool. And I hand-finish every piece, and construct it into the finished piece of sculpture or jewellery.

maker community
My phenotype continues to extend because of my luck at becoming part of, post art-school, an incredibly skilled maker community (thanks again to Jeff de Boer). Jeff is working on formalising his career-network of local and international makers, a group who really can make anything when they work together, into a fledgling group (LEXM) that operates like an old guild, but with a modern outlook… Utilizing STEM-A thinking, and with no limit on the kind of project. I find myself smiling at my luck, that the scientific-analytical approach I gained through university, teaching experience, and public health career are equally valued in this community. It’s a dream come true: be as good as you can at what you do, learn more constantly, gain skills from each other, and very importantly, start to mentor to keep these very human skills alive. Who knows what someone I teach might be able to discover?

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