ImageI’ve been waiting for the dust to settle a bit before writing about the conclusion of the 2012 Saint John Sculpture Symposium. The part of me that saw this project as a staycation thought to write: in a way it’s like I never left the city; but I didn’t leave the city – it just felt like I did. The Coast Guard site was an impromptu, ad hoc country with its own set of needs and its own structure – our sovereignty was in laying down lines, acquiring tools, removing stone, polishing, and clearing out space and time to support these artists so they could extract their inspiration from our granite.

First most asked question: “Will you be taking up stone carving?”

Perhaps being a potter has entrenched my philosophy of craft with a bold sense of utility. I would like to make a granite bathtub and then build a house around it. I would like to make some small animals, but most of the things I think of making out of stone, I could also make out of clay. My imagination peters out a little. It’s great that you don’t have to fire stone for it to last for 10,000 years. I think Phil Savage should take up stone carving, that’s for sure.

Second most asked question: “Are you glad it’s over, or do you miss it?”

If it’s possible for both to be true, then let’s have that. I’m glad the project was a success, but I am a person who thrives in intense scenarios, not in transitions. I’m most focused when I know I can work on a project until the essence is attained and elevated, in this case, we (the interns) were not as much a creative element as muscle and precision tools. So, it was more about performance, support, and troubleshooting than aesthetics, but I was relieved because seeing the potential in something so massive kind of hurt my brain in a good, expanding way. So yes, I am glad that I got to learn so much about tools, utilities, language, sunscreen, site maintenance, tools (again), safety, cranes & rigging, prognostication, music, popular movies, skinny jeans, cohabitation, food, and extroversion. I find all of it quite engaging and could have been with the project for longer. I’m also glad to be back behind the wheel because I need clay. I need my cat. I also need my community and my business and they need their alison. So here I am: a potter at your service.

I’ve been told it’s like I am leasing my pottery rather than selling it – and it’s true, I always want to see (have) them again. I’ve seen Asano’s piece ‘Sunshine and Night Time over Saint John’ installed at the entrance of Rockwood Park, but I’m going on a sculpture tour this Sunday to have a look at all the pieces in what’s now their natural habitat. On Saturday the 15th, seeing them all without the manifold’s electrical wires, air, and water hoses felt risky somehow. It’s as though I wondered if they would be ok without these life lines. I know that’s irrational but this is coming from a person who does not particularly enjoy letting her creations go.

For the locals who worked on the Sculpture Saint John project: wasn’t it alarming to be here, and not see the faces we’ve seen every day for six weeks? But at least we have the sculptures to visit. Maybe the people who’ve returned to their homes miss the site and the sculptors, sculptures, volunteers and interns. We miss them and we are extremely grateful to have had this experience. Come visit!

Getting back to the grind: I’ve been completing the Sculpture Saint John mugs while I also prepare the Saint John Arts Centre’s first kiln for its first glaze firing, amid commissions, my productions for Handworks, and learning to cook again. It’s very quiet. I taught a really fantastic class on Saturday and that’s what this blog will be transitioning into: a place to reflect and share about how and what I teach in Art with Alison, Adult pottery classes,  what I do in my studio, what I do in the community.

I will be hosting an Empty Bowls (of soup) fundraiser on October 5th at 6:30. Come to the Sanctuary Theatre (in the InterAction School of Performing Arts) on 228 Germain St, eat (amazing and hearty) soup,  listen to soothing music, and buy a bowl – the proceeds will go to Outflow, a group who provides food for Saint John’s people in need. For tickets, email: me@alisongayton.com.

The Harvesting the Arts Festival is that following Sunday (Oct 7th), so please come and see me, so that I can give you some money to buy me some biscotti from the Queen Square Market. I will have new pottery at that time as well, and I don’t mind telling you it’s a bit of a departure from my typical line.Image

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