Selfridge Ceramic Art

EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA

Galleries

Masters Gallery, Calgary, Alberta

403-245-2064

Scott Gallery Edmonton, Alberta

780-488-3619, scottart@planet.eon.net



Collections

Barcelona Ceramic Museum,
Barcelona, Spain

Alberta Art Foundation,
10 works

Former Prime Minister of Canada
Jean Chretien

Chancellor of McGill University,
Montreal, Quebec

Royal Alberta Museum,
Edmonton, Alberta

World Ceramic Exposition Museum
Ichon, Korea

Northwestern Utilities,
Edmonton, Alberta

Alberta Federal and Intergovernmental
Affairs, Ottawa, New York

Gardiner Museum of Ceramics
Toronto, Ontario

Minneapolis Institute of Art
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Steelcase Corporation,
Calgary, Alberta

Claridge Collection, Montreal
(Bronfman Foundation)

The Westin Hotel,
Winnipeg and Edmonton

Burlington Art Gallery,
Burlington, Ontario

British Petroleum,
Calgary, Alberta

Archie Bray Foundation
Helena, Montana

His Imperial Highness Prince Takamado
Japan

Canadian Public
Relations Society

Skutt Ceramics
Portland, Oregon

International Ceramic Expo Ceramic Museum,
Jingdezhen, China

Art Gallery of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta

Finland Ambassador to Canada
Toronto, Ont.

President of Kyoto Women's University
Kyoto, Japan

Japanese Consul General to Alberta
Calgary, Alberta

Tatsuzo Shimaoka, National Living Treasure
of JapanMashiko, Japan

Auckland Studio Potters
Auckland, New Zealand

Mazankowski Heart Institute,
Edmonton, Alberta

The Pottery Workshop Gallery Collection,
Jingdezhen, China

Alberta Teachers
Association

Dwight M. Holland Collection
North Carolina

American Library Association President,
Loriene Roy

Former Prime Minister of Canada
Joe Clark

Aomori International Woodfire Festival Collection
of Goshogawara-shi Museum, Japan

Government of Canada, External Affairs,
Office of the Chief of Protocol

Government Of Alberta, Creative Services,
dignitaries' gifts

Mi Museum, collection of Peder Kolind,
Granada Nicaragua

Athabasca University

Publications

Movies

"Clay in Hand", Karvonen Films Ltd. for Bravo Arts and Entertainment TV, 30 min., 2005

Books

"Studio Ceramics in Canada, Gail Crawford, Goose Lane Editions, 2005

An Alberta Art Chronicle: Adventures in Recent and Contemporary Art , Mary-Beth Laviolette,
Altitude Publishing. 2006

An Illustrated Guide to a Hundred and Fifty Years of Alberta Art, Patricia Ainslie & Mary-Beth Laviolette,
Fifth House Publishing. 2007

500 Bowls, John Britt, Lark Books, U.S.A., Spring 2003

500 Teapots, Kathy Triplett, Lark Books, U.S.A., Fall 2002

The Ceramic Spectrum, Robin Hopper, Krause Publications, U.S.A. 2001

The Art of Contemporary American Pottery, Kevin A. Hluch, Krause Publications, U.S.A. 2001

Clay and Glazes for the Potter, Daniel Rhodes, edited and revised by Robin Hopper, Krause
Publications, U.S.A. 2000

The Contemporary Potter, Fairbanks, Fina and Gustin, Quarry Books, 2000

Painted Ceramics: Colour and Imagery on Clay, Brenda Pegrum, Crowood Press, U.K. 1999

The Best of Pottery, Rockport Publishers, 1996

The Best of New Ceramic Art, The Guild Publishers U.S.A. 1996

Tin Glazed Earthenware, Daphne Carnegy, Chilton Books, U.K.,U.S. 1993

Periodicals

Ceramic Art and Perception

Ceramic Review

Ceramics Monthly

Fusion

Contact

West

Legacy

Western Living

Alberta Venture

Interviews

CBC Morningside, 1992
CBC Alberta News, Newsworld, Newsday,1996


Process and Intention


Trompe L'oeil Pots


Our way of creating the large illusionistic pots could best be termed constructivist with ready- mades. We make round and oval discs by press molding, which are then cut and altered, stacked and joined to form segmented pots. By using ovals cut on the bias, we can get gestural pots with a lot of movement. We like the way they look much like a pot in a painting by Matisse or Braque or Picasso. With their cut down front rim and slightly comic handles, they become a kind-spirited caricature of historic "real" pots.

We are interested in painting flat things to look round and round things to look flat. These pots are about perception; that is, those visual clues that let us know the nature and dimension of things. With color, pattern, figure/ground, shading, silhouette and by using many "universal referants", we create visual gaps that the viewer fills up with their own constructed reality.

Our pots usually have an illusionistic pot or a pot-on-a-pot "front" side and the reverse side often becomes a shaped canvas for a figurative/narrative glaze painting. With figurative, classical and humorous imagery, we try to join the gestural quality of drawing and painting with the innate gesture of ceramic vessels. These vessels present the viewer with the ambiguity of classical themes and contemporary painting.


Exploring Earthly Delights: Mundane and Beyond


When we stayed with Harry Davis in New Zealand in 1980, he told us the life of the potter was "mundane". With huge hue and cry we said it was anything but boring (what most North Americans mean when they say mundane). Oxford and he said it meant "of the earth". Latin mundus. On reflection, our work for the last several years has been dealing with the attempt to transcend and sometimes recapture the mere earthiness of common clay.

Three territories we have explored: Majolica terra cotta, translucent porcelain and wood fired stoneware are all different ways of transforming raw materials into something beyond the ordinary.

We offer for exhibition these three different types of work as dimensions of our continuing exploration. The majolica presents both the formal (illusionistic) and the painted world with our recurring themes of nature in flowers, still life, figuration and mythology. The translucent porcelain is a man made material transformed by the fire to make a glass; a white ground for intense color and the carving and drawing of naturalistic motifs. Lastly, the wood fired stoneware are special pots that have "been somewhere" - they have experienced an extreme assault of ash and flame, a thermal wind that decorates them with scars and blushes where they have been touched by nature. At their best they resemble a beautiful "found rock".

We are back then to the earth. We learn by handling clay how far it will allow us to take it. We are the instrument - it is the transcendent material. It is a constant challenge - anything but "mundane".


Why We Make Utilitarian Pots


Carol and I have been making pots for use for nearly thirty years and although we do other kinds of work as well, we are still challenged and fascinated with making functional pottery. In part we have been influenced by other potters who saw function as a transcendent positive attribute of their ceramic work. We worked two summers in the late 70's with Harry Davis and while talking about the potter's life we discovered a curious linguistic anomaly. When we stayed with Harry in New Zealand in 1980, he told us the life of the potter was "mundane". With huge hue and cry we said it was anything but boring (what most North Americans mean when they say mundane). Oxford and he said it meant "of the earth". Latin mundus.

On reflection, our work for the last several years has been dealing with the attempt to transcend and sometimes recapture the earthiness of common clay. Three territories we have explored: Majolica terra cotta, translucent porcelain and wood fired stoneware are all different ways of transforming raw materials into something useful beyond the ordinary.

The majolica presents both the formal (illusionistic) and the painted world with our recurring themes of nature in flowers, still life, figuration and mythology. The translucent porcelain is a man made material transformed by the fire to make a glass; a white ground for intense color and the carving and drawing of naturalistic motifs. Lastly, the wood fired stoneware are special pots that have "been somewhere" ? they have experienced an extreme assault of ash and flame, a thermal wind that decorates them with scars and blushes where they have been touched by nature. At their best they resemble a beautiful "found rock".

By handling them in their domestic context, the user can sometimes connect with their naturalism. The "bizen style" tea bowl with it's feldspar inclusions is similar to a black granite rock spit from the earth and polished by nature. We are back then to the earth. We learn by handling clay how far it will allow us to take it. We are the instrument ? it is the transcendent material. It is a constant challenge ? anything but "mundane".


Clay and Glaze - Our Artistic Practice

We make all of our own clay and glazes and although it is an incredibly labour intensive activity, it is one of the things that makes our collaborative work unique. We make about six different clay bodies from native materials from all over North America. Our terra cotta body is from Athabasca, prepared from the raw clay which we get by the dump truck load, mixed wet and screened and dried up to plastic consistency after adding flux, a dash of barium carbonate and grog and sometimes nylon fiber. It would be cheaper to by these clays pre-made from a supplier but they are often not available and lack the consistency and thus control we demand.

We make about three different high fire stoneware bodies from materials from southern Saskatchwan (Ravenscrag), northern Idaho (Helmer) and Montana. In some of these we put feldspathic stones or stars which come from the Fraser canyon near Lytton B.C. One of these is a dark, bizen style, body which is sometimes decorated with our translucent porcelain. Our porcelain is made from pure kaolins from Georgia and England, feldspar from South Dakota and fine silica from Illinois. We fire it to about 2400F. on the verge of slumping to get translucency and luminosity. This body is blunged as a slip and dried up to plastic on cloth on the ground and aged for developing plasticity. Developing all these clays has been a labour of love, research and testing. Sometimes we feel like medieval alchemists.

Our glazes are also the result of decades of testing. More recently we have been using a lot of native materials. These include the feldspathic rocks from Lytton, cedar ash from Barriere, B.C.,other wood ashes from Clancy, Montana, and Priddis, and Hairy Hill, Alberta. We use gneiss from Hope and the Northwest Territories and our terra cotta clay from a glacial backwash in Athabasca. We have also used two varieties of volcanic ash from the eruption of Mt. St.Helens. All these materials are refined and ball milled to form glaze which gives special colours and effects from the included mix of minerals. This is a kind of special soup which has trace elements which are a mystery even to us. We see this as a way of using the gifts of the earth, some like the volcanic ash, dramaticaly given, to enhance our artistic creations.

Our majolica glaze colours which form a palette of nearly sixty, are composed of stains and oxides which we have tested after mixing and screening with our base majolica glaze. They are painted on the white unfired majolica glaze (like a water colour on blotter paper) and then fired in the final glaze firing.

Finally, some of the work is glazed and fired a third or fourth time with over glaze enamels and real gold. All our work - the small stamps, stencils and trailing designs are created by us. What you find at our studio is a unique mixture of our knowledge and experience accumulated nearly thirty years in both the technical and decorative side of ceramics.


Carol and Richard Selfridge


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