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Hot Clay

Surrey Art Gallery
Surrey BC Thru Mar 28, 2004

Jeremy Hatch – Still
Jeremy Hatch, Still (2003), porcelain [Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, BC, thru Mar 28]

Surrey Art Gallery curator Liane Davison raises public appreciation of contemporary British Columbia ceramic art to new heights with a wonderful exhibition entitled Hot Clay. Included are 16 artists working in such radically different styles and genres of clay that their creations might well be made from different media.

Traditional pieces include the beautiful platters and plates by Gordon Hutchens and Kinichi Shigeno, as well as, Laura Wee Láy Laq’s delicate ollas. Upping them a conceptual notch are Rachelle Chinnery's translucent, seashell-like porcelain forms on bronze bases, and Judy Chartrand’s ceramics decorated with images from the downtown Eastside – cockroaches, syringes and pills. Keith Rice Jones and Paul Mathieu go tall with monumental architectual sculptures employing strong primitive shapes, and porcelain vases incorporating art historical references to early 20th Century modern artists.

Linda Sormin’s work takes a unique approach using pieces of clay itself – muddy, coiling and squished – to build up brilliantly coloured abstract-expressionist reliefs. In a completely different direction, Meg Ida and Nancy Walker carefully modelled small clay objects with detailed interiors. Laurie Rolland’s pieces play on the duality of metaphors for vessels, taken from boats and uteruses.

Thrown: Influences of West Coast Ceramics, an exhibition that also focuses on ceramics, with works from the 1960s to the present by Mick Henry, Ian Irving, Charmian Johnson, Glenn Lewis, Wayne Ngan, John Reeve and Ian Steele at the Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, thru Mar 14.
Sally Michener and Bill Rennie bring a figurative sensibility to their enormous structures – Michener with tall compositions of abstracted and delicately coloured body parts and Rennie by means of detailed landscapes and buildings painted in watercolour. Pat Taddy creates bizarrely engineered teapots with parts cast from machined objects, while Alison Feargieve assembles bird-like earthenware sugar bowls, creamers and teapots. An amazing piece in the exhibit is Jeremy Hatch's over-sized child's swing set, built entirely from porcelain.

A 92-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Mia Johnson

 Tue, Feb 3, 2004