Creativity Thriving in the Kawarthas

A throwing demonstration at KPG. Photo: Ginny Clark

The Link, Autumn 2018
| by Joanne Culley |

The Kawarthas are a hive of creativity for many artistic pursuits. Whether it’s being near the water or due to the surrounding beautiful natural scenery, the region inspires many to express themselves in a variety of ways.

The Kawartha Potters Guild (KPG) has been growing steadily over the past 25 years and for the past six years has h  ad a permanent location in Peterborough with 117 members.

“The Kawarthas are a hive of creativity for many artistic pursuits.”

“Pottery is becoming popular among those disillusioned with mass market items made and shipped from halfway around the world,” says Karina Bates, administrator. “It is also enjoying a resurgence because of the meditative nature of working with clay. In a world full of beeping cell phones, sitting still with a lump of clay and forming it into something beautiful is really special. To help people explore pottery’s meditative nature, we offer a beginner throwing class with yoga and meditation.”

A member of KAG painting en plein air. Photo: Sue Sydney.

The values of education and community are at the Guild’s core. Throughout the year, they offer many wheel-throwing and hand-building courses from beginner to advanced, along with a hand-building/beginner sculpture course.

Their courses for young people include after-school classes, a teens’ throwing course, family clay days with seasonal creations and a summer day camp. There are many benefits to children in creating pottery, according to Bates.

“We have worked with children of many ages and abilities over the years and find that working with clay can be a soothing activity for them,” she says. “Many children are very tactile and they can work through the process of making, decorating and glazing to the final stage where they get to see their finished product out of the kilns. Also, sometimes clay doesn’t work the way you want – kids as well as adults learn lessons in impermanence and trying again.”

The Guild’s retail store carries local handmade creations including pottery, wood, textiles and gourds with lots of selection for wedding, shower, corporate or Christmas gifts.

Finished work for sale at the KPG gallery. Photo: Ginny Clark.

Another hive of creativity is the Kawartha Artists’ Gallery and Studio (KAGS) that was founded in 1990 by a group of artists who wanted a place to paint. Their mandate is to encourage the making of art and the appreciation of art in the area. There are now over 100 members consisting of visual artists and photographers.

“Creating art relieves stress, encourages creative thinking, increases brain function, boosts self-esteem and provides a sense of accomplishment,” says Jane Armstrong, publicist. “Creating in a studio space with other artists is a great learning tool. Each individual uses different techniques and exhibits their own styles from which they learn and grow. Many friendships are made as people already share interests.”

As part of a not-for-profit cooperative, members are actively involved in the running of both the studio and the gallery, serving on the board, organizing and publicizing shows, gallery sitting and more.

KAG Workshop with Lori Dunn. Photo: Sue Sydney.

KAGS offers a full roster of classes and open studio sessions throughout the year, including workshops in printmaking, life drawing, landscape painting, portraits and still life. Their Outdoor Painters Group paints on location or “en plein air” during the warmer months.

“Our many workshops and studios provide a reasonably priced opportunity for members to learn from each other and artists from around Ontario,” continues Armstrong. “The calibre of work in our exhibitions has risen consistently over the years.”

KAGS puts on approximately 12 shows a year, including six theme shows open to all members, four rental shows, a fundraising show Small Treasurers and The Best of High School Art Show, a juried exhibition with awards presented to student artists.

“Over the years, KAGS has grown in its support for and the development of artists at all stages of their artistic journey,” says Armstrong.

Kawartha Potters Guild
993 Talwood Rd., Peterborough.
Gallery open Monday to Friday, 11 am to 5 pm, Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm.
kawarthapottersguild.com
Christmas sale: Friday, November 30 to Sunday, December 2.

Kawartha Artists’ Gallery
and Studio
420 O’Connell Rd., Peterborough.
Gallery open Wednesday to Sunday, 1 pm to 4 pm.
kawarthaartists.org
Upcoming shows: Serving Up Colour, from September 12 to 23, opening reception on September 16, Driven to Abstraction, from September 26 to October 21, opening reception on September 30; The Outdoor Painters Show, from October 24 to November 11, opening reception on October 28.

Joanne Culley is an award-winning writer and documentary producer from Peterborough. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Peterborough Examiner, and Our Canada magazine.

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