All fired up – Saanich News

– Text by Jane Zatlyny, photography by Don Denton

wherever you go Ladysmith’s Threshold of Mary Fox Pottery or Open the Book Mary Fox: My Pottery Career, prepare to immerse yourself in a world of colour, beauty and imagination. And pots. Many pots.

A pretty winter garden leads to a renovated miner’s cottage in a quiet Ladysmith side street. Inside the store, your eyes will be drawn to the vast selection of pots, cutlery, bowls and utensils. Beautiful, impossibly tall planters. Sexy oversized boats. Blown glass and ceramic wine glasses set in rock. Glazes and textures beyond one’s wildest imagination.

Behind the gallery, apprentice Sarah Wilson attaches a clay handle to a mug in the workshop. In Marie’s huge Blaauw kiln at the back of the house, rack after rack of pots and utensils wait to be fired.

Upstairs, in Mary’s private room, there are more planters to admire, on low shelves under the large windows and on higher shelves on the wall. On her kitchen counter, old Torquay motto pottery is on display, including her prized childhood eggcups.

Mary uses the adjoining room as a photography studio, and it is here that she displays some of her most impressive work on wall-mounted shelves, including a round sagger with the most incredible surface pot. Made from a mixture of sawdust, copper and seaweed from Ladysmith Port, it is a fine example of Mary’s artistic ingenuity.

“Ladysmith used to be a coal mining town, so the seaweed has a little bit of coal attached to it, hence these red hues,” she said.

The jar looks ancient, much like it was part of an archaeological dig.

“I want people to have that unearthed beauty to my work,” says Marie. “I want them to look and wonder, ‘Is this glass? Is it clay? Is it metal?'”

Looking around, it’s hard to imagine that little of Mary’s life as a potter happened.

“Ceramics was the only elective subject left for me at Victoria Central Junior High,” Mary said. “I’m pretty sure I can’t take this class because I’m not artistic; I’m a bookworm and a bum.” But she did.

“It was love at first sight,” she said.

This elective led to more high school classes, more experimentation, and acceptance of her work in the Greater Victoria Art Gallery gift shop and other Victorian galleries during her teens.

Mary was ambitious and totally obsessed with pottery. At 18, she planned to apprentice in Devon with the English potter Michael Leach. But fate intervened again.

“I borrowed a friend’s car to deliver some pots to the gallery and it ended up in an accident,” she said. “There was no collision insurance on the car, so for all my money I couldn’t go.”

As a self-taught ceramic artist, Mary faced many personal and professional obstacles, including a devastating autoimmune disease that affected her and her late wife, Heather Vaughan. She persevered, establishing homes and studios in different cities, exploring new methods and materials in her work, and making a living as a potter.

Now 63, she is at the peak of her career and able to look back on her life as a potter.

“About 20 years ago, Heather asked me what made it easier for me to start out as a potter,” she says. “I told her: a low-cost, well-appointed studio where I can sell what I’m creating.”

This conversation marked the beginning of the Mary Fox Legacy Project Association. Mary has created an endowment through the Vancouver Foundation and the BC Craft Council, as well as an apprenticeship program that supports young ceramic artists. Today, the project is her focus.

“We live in a very different world than the one I grew up in,” she said. “Helping the young people of the future is more and more important to me.”

When she finished writing her book and began putting together legacy projects, she realized she would no longer have the energy to both present her work and be involved in legacy projects. But it’s okay, she said.

“I have successfully achieved my main life goal of making pottery and earning a living from my craft. Now is the time to help young people – and what better way to help future generations of potters than by introducing traditional apprenticeships and endowments how?”

Mary Fox: My Pottery Career

Stories and Tips

Part memoir, part ceramicist’s guide, this beautifully designed, illustrated hardcover book tells an inspiring story of love, loss, artistic growth, and friendship for every student, collector, and student who appreciates the art of ceramics Or individuals should read.

In part one, Mary shares her development as an artist and the ups and downs of her personal life, including the loss of his wife Heather in 2007. She also tells readers about her vision for the Mary Fox estate project.

In part two, Mary provides valuable technical notes, including ‘things I wish I knew’, glaze techniques, marketing ideas and details about her creative process.

“Showing my soul to the world wasn’t on my ‘to do list,'” admits Mary. “But being inspiring and sharing knowledge is, so I share it all.”

All proceeds from Mary Fox: My Pottery Career (2020, Harbor Publishing) in support of the Mary Fox Legacy Project.

find it in, monroe book In Victoria or via Amazon or Indigo.

story by boulevard magazineBlack Press Media Publications

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