The mandate of the symposium is to provide a forum in which both professionals and students can gather and participate in an educational environment. Exposure to a wide variety of local and international practices, aesthetics and expertise fosters heightened awareness and furthers both technical skills and knowledge of the craft.
The first Canadian Clay Symposium was held at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in 2000 as a millennium project. It was based on the model of a one-day seminar put on by Malaspina College (organized by John Charnetski) in Nanaimo, B.C. held annually from 1975-1985. By popular demand, after a 15 year hiatus, this event was re-configured and re-introduced by the Canadian Clay Collective.
The CCC is comprised of volunteers whose backgrounds include professional ceramic artists and educators, working together with city staff from the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts. Initially, 10 B.C. Pottery Guilds contributed funding and support to resurrect the Symposium.
Both the Potters Guild of B.C. and the North-West Ceramics Foundation play key roles in backing the event. To date, 7 symposia have been presented, with themes such as “Canadian Clay”, “Diversity in Clay”, “Surfacing”, “Aesthetics”, “Elementum; Form, Function, Feast” and “R:evolution – tradition – technology”. Currently planning is underway for “20/20 Perspectives in Canadian Ceramics”, which will take place on Saturday March 21, 2020. The theme of this year’s symposium offers a unique glimpse into how ceramic artists handle their mud with a 20/20 focus on Canadian perspectives. Symposium participants experience an entire day of in depth conversation with peers and presenters and watch exceptional demos ranging from hand-building, wheel-throwing, slip-casting to atmospheric firing, all with an eye to investigate how Canadian identity is shaped through clay.
Each time, national and international artists and speakers have been invited to share their expertise with students and professionals in the ceramic arts. The topics of presentation cover academic and theoretical topics, as well as providing more practical techniques in areas such as sculpture, hand-building, wheel-throwing, glaze and firing technology and clay bodies. These topics are addressed through numerous simultaneous presentations of images, lectures, demonstrations, critiques, panel discussions and a topical keynote address. Theoretical presentations involve discussions of literature on the medium, including history, contemporary practice and trends in the ceramic arts.
In connection with the symposium, pre and post event activities include expanded workshops with the presenters at various locations throughout the province, as well as gallery exhibits within the lower mainland.