Fired Up! group has 35th show

Contemporary ceramics event runs May 24-26

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As a Vancouver Island institution in contemporary ceramics, Fired Up!, gets ready to host its 35th annual show this weekend at Metchosin Community Hall, Salt Spring will be celebrating an ongoing connection to the venture.

Island potter Pat Webber is a founding member of the group and has participated annually throughout the 35-year exhibition history. Fellow islander Denys James has been a core member in the past, and Alwyn O’Brien is one of this year’s guest artists. Other Salt Spring ceramicists have who shown with Fired Up! through the years include Judy Weeden, Mellissa Searcy and Julie MacKinnon.

The core group has always represented ceramic artists of all varieties, with those working in low fire to high fire kilns, and from wheel through to hand-built to cast pieces. Aside from the regional base, their unifying factor is a commitment to excellence in the contemporary setting. That’s created a highly successful show that continues to win fans after three and a half decades in business.

“We could all produce really nice pots if we didn’t take risks; I think encouraging people to try things keeps the interest in what we do,” Webber said. “If you did the same thing year after year, who’s want to come?”

The original members of Fired-Up! had an important objective: to connect community with the diverse world of ceramics. Over the years, their mission gained success.

Though the Vancouver Island region is now well known for its ceramics art, Webber said the collective came together during a time that was not so good for potters’ sales.

“People were coming to shows, but it was not easy to make a living,” she said.

Hopper’s solution was to put together a strong group of exhibitions that would focus on new, contemporary work. He invited the most diverse and professional artists from the region. The resulting event would include a public education component and would elevate the entire ceramics scene on and around southern Vancouver Island.

Webber said one reason Fired Up! may have such staying power is despite getting new people from time to time, the group has maintained its cohesive focus and its spirit of cooperation. The members work well together to carry out all the aspects of the show before and during the event. They also meet the day after it finishes for a post-mortem to discuss what needs to change the following year.

The reliable high quality work and exciting focus has also led to recognition beyond the signature show. The Fired Up! group has been invited to feature exhibitions at the NCECA Conference, the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, the Circle Craft Gallery and the BC Gallery of Ceramics, plus a couple of airports.

This weekend’s show starts with an opening gala on Friday, May 24 from 6 to 9 p.m. and continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For more on this story, see the May 22, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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