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Brantford-Brant supports local artists at annual spring pottery sale 

Local NewsBrantford-Brant supports local artists at annual spring pottery sale 

Hundreds of pottery enthusiasts attended the Brantford Potters Guild’s annual spring sale at the Woodman Community Centre over the weekend, from Friday, April 5 to Sunday, April 7, 2024.

The spring sale has been running for over 20 years and it’s become an opportunity for attendees to not only support their favourite potters, but to discover a host of new-to-them ceramic artists.

Mugs, serving ware and soap dispensers were just a few of the items on display for purchase during the Brantford Potters Guild spring sale on Friday, April 5, 2024.

From mugs to bowls, plates and serving dishes, vases and bird feeders, there were plenty of unique items to catch the eye.

“This weekend we have around 24 or 25 potters here and a majority of them are Brantford based,” said Mary McDonald, member of the Brantford Potters’ Guild. “Some are from the County but we also have a lady from Burlington, as well as Joseph Panacci from the Port Dover area. With this many artists, we have a lot of functional items, as well as plenty of decorative work to browse and buy from.”

Residents take a closer look at Patsy Wicha’s artwork during the Brantford Potters Guild spring sale on Friday, April 5, 2024.

McDonald said that the artists often begin preparing their work for the sale months in advance as any given art piece can add up to well over 40 hours of work.

“It’s major work, I don’t know if a lot of people realize that there’s such a process with it and that potters often start creating things in January for this sale,” she said. “It always comes down to timing because you have to be there when it needs you or you lose it. It’s a longer process than most people realize so if you ever wonder why you’re paying so much for a piece, it’s because it’s very labour intensive.”

For many shoppers, it’s the extensive process that draws them in and encourages them to return each year to support the local artists.

“I’ve been coming to both the spring and the fall sales for the last few years now and I think the reason I’m willing to pay what I pay is because I know that there’s so much work that goes into it. I just really appreciate the artists because I don’t think I have that kind of talent,” laughed Andrea Wicks-Cherry, a County of Brant resident. “I always like anything that’s textured and so Em Gabriel is just one of my favourites. She sells her pieces online but it’s one of those things where she does a sale drop at a certain time and day, but I’m never fast enough to buy anything before she sells out and so I’m really glad the guild holds these events because then I can check out her stuff in person, but I also get to see other potters as well.”

Andrea Wicks-Cherry shows off her basket of pottery goods during the Brantford Potters Guild spring sale on Friday, April 5, 2024

Gabriel was this year’s spring sale featured artist and many of her pieces embodied bright florals, textured ocean waves and other works inspired by nature.

“I would describe my work as whimsical, fun, and cheerful; it’s all very maximalist and over the top, but happy,” she said. “My goal is really just to make morning routines more cheerful with a better mug.”

Gabriel first began her journey into pottery in high school but when she later started her nine-year long career as a kindergarten teacher, it soon became more of a hobby for her.

It wasn’t until she moved back to Canada after tutoring in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for a few years, that she picked the art back up again.

“When I moved back here, I met and married my husband and he encouraged me to get back into it and so now I’ve been working in clay since 2016 and in 2020, I actually went full time,” she said. “This is my whole career now and I feel very humbled, but excited that I get to do this full time and that there’s such support for my work. Pottery is experiencing such a great renaissance right now and so it’s just exciting for me to get to do something I love.”

Buyers take a closer look at various artwork during the Brantford Potters Guild spring sale on Friday, April 5, 2024.

She said that for her and many other potters, the process is a special one.

“You’re working with an earth material where you’re taking mud and working it into something,” said Gabriel. “There’s something about that process that is so special because you’re connecting with the earth and then at the end, you get to look at your art and it’s that moment where you go ‘oh wow, I made this with my own two hands.’ It’s all very grounding.”

For those who missed the spring sale, the fall sale will take place later this year in December, but for the people who can’t wait until then, McDonald said they can check out the Hamilton Potters Guild upcoming sale in Dundas from May 3 to May 5.

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