Kellsey Ronaghan had never worked with clay before enrolling in the Alberta College of Art and Design, but it didn’t take long before she was hooked.
“I just took an intro class and fell in love with it. The tactility of it drew me in,” said Ronaghan, who was raised in a family of self-sufficient craftspeople five hours north of Whitehorse.
After attempting some wheel throwing classes – “They weren’t my favourite. The wheel spins faster than I can think.” – she chose to focus on hand-building, which she said draws on her upbringing working with wood and textiles.
“It is a much slower process, but I enjoy it a lot more and my touch is really visible in everything and it’s all a little bit different,” Ronaghan said. “It’s not like I’m making the same mug over and over again. They each have their own little character.”
This summer, Ronaghan has been the artist-in-residence at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts Studio and Gallery. She said she’s been working on furthering in practice both in terms of making and learning the business side of things.
Since graduating in 2016 Ronaghan’s studio time has been limited to evenings and weekends, making it hard to experiment. She said this residency is giving her the opportunity to try new ideas and from Aug. 17 to 29 her latest creations will be on display in her new show, Meet the Collection.
Ronaghan has participated in group exhibitions, online shows and she’s been featured in a cookbook, but this is her first solo show. As the title suggests, this is the first time she’s displaying her entire range of work.
“I have a bunch of different items so from mugs to serving dishes. The full collection will be here,” she said. “Because I’ve taken bits and pieces to markets here and there, but it’s never been all of it at the same time.”
Ronaghan describes Nanaimo Ceramic Arts, which also contains a gallery, store and workshop studio, as a social place with a “really strong community aspect” that she misses from her time at school. She said those are elements she would like to bring into her own practice.
“Working in your own studio, which is in my house, it can get pretty isolating. And so it’s nice to move to a studio where there are other people around and you can ask them for ideas or feedback and just be a part of a community,” she said. “But also I really was interested in this place because I eventually would like to move back to the Yukon one day and open a studio like this where I can work in it and have a gallery but also engage with the community in a different way.”
WHAT’S ON … Opening reception for Kellsey Ronaghan’s Meet The Collection exhibition takes place at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts Studio and Gallery, 140 Wallace St., on Saturday, Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. Show continues until Aug. 29.