May 13, 2017 - July 1, 2017
In 2017, Canada is 150 years old as a nation. To mark this unique occasion, the Esplanade Art Gallery presents a group exhibition inspired by the abundant history – and rich prospects – of ceramics in Canada.
Clay is a medium that is the bedrock of our region, south eastern Alberta, and our city, Medicine Hat. Over a century ago, the Canadian Pacific Railway’s construction connected Medicine Hat with the rest of Canada, and by the beginning of the 20th century Medicine Hat’s clay industries formed the original backbone of the city, in what is now the Medalta National Historic District. We thought it appropriate to participate in Canada’s sesquicentennial by inviting seventeen artists working in clay from across the country to create pieces in response to Canada’s formation, 150 years of confederation, and what the future may hold.
These seventeen ceramic artists, from British Columbia to Nunavut to Alberta to Newfoundland, embarked upon a year-long creative journey through a multitude of personal interpretations, diverse themes, and investigations of their own identities as Canadians. The results are as varied as Canada’s culture: from bone china yunomi teacups inspired by the horizon line of the Prairies, to Women’s March selfie stations, and from wood fired lidded pots in the shape of curling rocks to vibrant designs based in Squamish Nation heritage.
This exhibition embodies the magic of clay. It is dug from the ground, malleable and responsive. But when fired, the clay in these art works is transformed into ceramic, a hard, everlasting material that will endure numberless environmental, political and cultural changes to provide rich and diverse stories of our time, our Canada.
Curated by Xanthe Isbister and Joanne Marion