ret on sat 21 sep 96
Some events can be so much more exciting than one would ever expect. (And
so much more work, no doubt the organizers would add) The Greek
potters' stay in Alberta was one of those-even though I was not one of the
This past August, ten Greek potters--I guess I have to call them ceramic
artists-and about a dozen Canadian artist were part of a Greek/Canadian
Intercultural Ceramics Symposium. They worked together, experimenting
with paper clay, for several weeks, sharing studio spaces.
After the first two weeks, an "open to the public" workshop drew a large
crowd to watch Nikos Kavgalakis, who had especially come from Crete for
a few days, demonstrate construction of several beautiful huge pithoi.
He used essentially the same techniques that have been in use in his
village of Margerites in Crete for generations. It was quite an
experience watching this man, who certainly is not used to a group of
spectators and who did not understand any English, as he calmly worked
away. I had to admire how well he coped with a claybody he was
not used to, as well as jetlag and the considerable difference in
altitude. He seemed to recreate his whole culture in fron to us and made
me terribly "homesick" for Crete.
After the "pithoi" weekend, the ten Greek potters went in groups of two
off to various areas of Alberta and stayed with Canadian potters. The
report of those visits alone would fill a small book. Briefly, it was
great fun and a wonderful time, and friendships were formed that will last.
Nobody got much sleep....
Then came a couple more weeks of working independently, either in Banff
or at other artists' studios, to finish the work begun in Banff and to
get it ready for a joint exhibition in Calgary. One weekend was spent
firing John Chalke's newest woodkiln--again stories for a book.
The joint exhibition, to me, was vibrant, alive, warm--I loved it
And the good-byes were, inevitably sad. But.....if things work out, a
group of Canadian potters will go to Greece next summer to work there for
One of the side-benefits for me was that I learned about a Greek Ceramic
Magazine that has been published for the past 9 years by Kostas Tarkassis
in Athens. For quite a while, it has been bi-ligual, but as of the most
recent issue it comes out in Greek and in English versions. If only I had
know about the magazine when I was in Greece! It would h ave saved me
weeks of wandering aroud from gallery to gallery looking for clay that
was not tourist-oriented!
The Magazine is called Kerameiki Techni. It is in full colour, high gloss
and truely international in scope. The most recent issue has articles
about Rudy Autio, Carmen Dionyse, Paul Soldner, Bruce Taylor, many, many
others from all around the world. Even Canadians!!! The next issue will
feature the life and work of Pierre Bayle, amongst others.
There should be a web page out soon about it. If anybody is interested,
they can contact me directly.
ELKE BLODGETT email: email@example.com
12 Grantham Place
St. Albert, AB T8N 0W8
403 (458-3445); 403 (727-2395)