A ceramic artist who specializes in a “precarious” method of pottery making will be discussing her practice and process at the Nanaimo Art Gallery.
Laura Wee Láy Láq of Chilliwack currently has work on display as part of the NAG exhibit We Do Not Work Alone and on Sept. 18 she is presenting a ‘talk and tour’ at the gallery.
Although she’s been making pottery for 50 years, this is her first time showing in Nanaimo. Wee Láy Láq said she was surprised by the body of work curator Jesse Birch selected for the exhibition. Instead of choosing her newer work, she said he picked pieces from her collection that are rarely shown.
“It’s my more experimental work,” Wee Láy Láq said. “Some of them are preliminaries to larger pieces, some of them are working through ideas and they’re taking the biggest risk in the way I work.”
The pieces in the show are all hand-built, fired in sawdust and left to smoulder for a day or two. The ash from the sawdust creates the colours and patterns on the vessels. Because of the low heat, Wee Láy Láq said it’s considered to be a “primitive firing technique.” It’s also a specialty of hers.
Wee Láy Láq said it’s a “delicate and tricky” process and the results can vary.
“You’re never guaranteed,” she said. “You can work for a month on something and it could just crack.”
Wee Láy Láq describes the way that she fires as “an invitation to my participation with the elements.”
“It’s not really about making objects, per se,” she said. “It’s about using them as canvases to honour first of all the earth and to honour all of the makers of vessels who have worked with the earth down through the course of history.”
The history of pottery is another of Wee Láy Láq’s interests, as she has travelled to places like Greece, Italy, Spain, Japan and China to research and compare indigenous pottery. One of her inspirations is the “olla,” a kind of traditional water carrier used around the world.
“I guess, to stand outside myself and look at it, people might think that I’m archaic about my choices,” she said. “But it’s my passion to honour the earth and this is the best way I know how to do it.”
WHAT’S ON … Talk and Tour with Laura Wee Láy Láq takes place at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, 150 Commercial St., on Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. Space limited, contact the gallery at 250-754-1750 to reserve a spot.