I am a Kootenay based, functional ceramic artist focusing on creating pottery for everyday use that reminds the user of being in nature.
Having been raised in Fernie, I thrive on all the activities that this gorgeous area has to offer. As a teenager and into my twenties, I was a ‘local fixture’ up at the ski hill, teaching skiing and snowboarding in the winters and floating the Elk river or hiking in the summer. The love of the mountains, surrounded by trees and nature led me to the West Kootenays to earn a diploma in forestry at Selkirk College. I returned to the Fernie area to work in Forestry for years, until I was offered a grant for art school. Originally, I went into the fine art woodworking program at Kootenay School of the Arts but changed focus to clay after having the opportunity to learn in the pottery studio and fell in love with the medium.
After completing the three-year diploma in Ceramic Art and graduating as a Studio Potter, I set up a permanent and full-time studio practice in the home we built just outside of Nelson with my husband and our two boys.
My chosen artistic medium is porcelain clay. Porcelain is the whitest and smoothest of all the clays. The creamiest. The softest. The purest. Nearly every day, I am at my pottery wheel, letting the slick white clay spin between my fingers creating art forms. Throwing pottery (the act of spinning the clay and forming it at speed between your hands and fingers) on the wheel is my absolute favourite part. It is the most meditative and serene step in the multi-faceted process. I have easily logged a few hundred thousand hours of throwing in the studio and it is always time well spent. Throwing pottery is like a sport - anyone can learn to do it but it takes a lot of time, dedication and stubborn perseverance to become a pottery artist.
Once the pottery is thrown and formed on the potter’s wheel and has had time to dry out to the perfect consistency, pieces are picked to be hand carved into art. My mountain carved mugs are inspired by growing up in the Rocky Mountains. These mountains are textured in their own unique features and some are carved with a river running through or a fresh ski line tracked down the mountainside. Each piece is hand carved, one of a kind and with hand painted sunsets. Even the bottoms of the mugs have a one of a kind pattern carved into them. They are created that way to form “tracks,” like footprints left in the sand behind you. Like tire tracks left in the mud from adventures just taken. Each unique. Each inspired by nature.
I also create functional and utilitarian items such as cocktail cups, bowls, plates, butter dishes and teapots. The glazed surfaces on these vessels is chosen to reflect the highly variable elements in nature. Likened to the flow of water and the variety of colour from silt laden creeks and rivers. The abstract and organic expression of nature frozen in time as the molten glaze cools in the kiln and forever holds the drips and once liquid quality.
I have found my way back to Fernie as part of a two-month show hosted by Ace Ferguson (AF) Studios. The Fernie AF Popup show is at The Fernie General Store for the months of November and December, runs seven days a week and features ten guest artists including myself and my sister Dana’s jewellery.
As a working artist, I am also a member of The Craft Connection in Nelson where my work can be found year-round. The Craft Connection is an artist co-op that opened in 1983 and hosts around 100 Canadian artists, the majority being from the Kootenays. My pottery is also available at the First Perk coffee shop in Jaffray and in Kelowna at the Karmyc Bazaar.
For more on Lisa’s pottery, visit her on social media @lisamartinpottery or visit craftconnection.org/lisa-martin.