I've been fortunate enough to travel to Japan twice so far, once in the 80s and again just a few years back. When I was younger I received an invitation to a formal tea ceremony - "chado" and was struck by the elegance and reverence it holds in Japanese culture. When I returned a few years ago I visited the Ippodo Tea Company in Kyoto - a 300 year old tea seller where I was able to sample some of the finest matcha in the country. On both trips I was struck by the variety and craftsmanship of Japanese pottery.
Wayne Ngan understands the Japanese aesthetic and masterfully demonstrates this in his tea bowls. His work has given me a renewed interest in the humble tea bowl and the simple pleasure of enjoying a bowl of fine matcha.
The yunomi, like the one pictured above, is a smaller form of tea bowl used for everyday. Its usually taller than it is wide. This example features Wayne's hakame brushwork over porcelain.
The chawan is a larger and wider bowl used for preparing and drinking matcha. The finely ground green tea is whisked with a special bamboo tool in a precise motion to froth it in preparation for drinking - best served at 80 degrees. This raku chawan features a hand carved foot or "kodai." The Japanese have a special appreciation for the kodai of a chawan as they feel it reveals the potter's skill and spirit.
A selection of three different chawan. The first two are raku examples of "han tsutsu-gata" or half-cylinder shape. The third shape - a porcelain bowl with green and tenmoku pinwheeled glaze is called "hatazori-gata" or "lipped bowl."
This is a very early example of one of Wayne's yunomi, likely dating to around 1960. Its an unusual form for him called "kuroginsai." Its difficult to tell in the photo but there is a bird painted underneath the blue overglaze.
Two fantastic examples of Wayne Ngan hakame. These yunomi were sold as a pair called "meoto yunomi." One is slightly larger than the other which is typical for a special set like these - usually reserved for wedding gifts.
As with all of Wayne Ngan's work, I appreciate the variety and his extraordinary skill of what he made. I've referred to Wayne as "Canada's Shoji Hamada" and his tea bowls are a fine example of why...
If you have one or more pieces of Wayne Ngan pottery to sell, please take the time to contact me here.
Ron Tribe is a potter who’s work I've always connected to. I've heard him referred to as the “electric eclectic” and the moniker fits his art. Ron Tribe was born in Surrey England in 1927. After a successful twenty-five year business career as a marketing consultant, he walked away from it in the early 1970s and attended the V.S.A. in Vancouver as well as U.B.C. and Capilano College. He established a pottery in North Vancouver and went on to teach at Capilano College.
Ron Tribe stated his influences as Japanese and Scandinavian and it's easy to see his take on both styles incorporated into his work. Lawren Harris figures as a significant influence in his work - certain pieces of his sculptures (like the two shown above) look like they stepped right out of a Harris painting.
Tribe was primarily slab builder who generally worked in stoneware and porcelain. He seldom used a wheel but to throw a few basic shapes - like the candle holder for his candle stands. His other main influence - Arthur Erickson - can be seen in the vast array of these he made with the “post and beam” look Erickson made famous.
Ron Tribe’s work was exhibited numerous times including the prestigious Ceramics 80 Retrospective held by the Potter's Guild of British Columbia. Over 120 significant juried exhibitors were shown, of which he had three pieces selected. He was later one of twelve Honourable Mention winners at the first World Triannual Exhibition of Small Ceramics at Zagreb Yugoslavia where over 550 entries were shown in 1984.
Ron Tribe’s work are usually marked with this chop mark (left). Sometimes he would stamp his pieces twice.
Tribe produced almost no work in the 1990s only to return with a significant show of his sculptural works in 2000.
Ron Tribe passed away in 2009.
If you have one or more pieces of Ron Tribe pottery you would like to sell, please contact me here.
In the summer of 1954, an Argentinian ceramicist named Reg Dixon, who was teaching pottery classes at the Vancouver School of Art, passed through Penticton. That summer he was driving around southern British Columbia in his station wagon, with an electric wheel in the back, stopping in communities and offering classes in pottery. Interested in taking the lessons "for pleasure," Louise Schwenk was to get her start in ceramics. Showing immediate skill and promise as a potter she was encouraged by Dixon to pursue the craft and take further classes.
The impetus to study seriously came that same year. An Arctic front moved into the Okanagan Valley in November, killing a third of the orchards on the acreage run by her and her husband Adolph. Looking for a new way to support themselves in light of this economic blow, Louise enrolled in classes at the VSA in winter months of 1956, studying with Dixon as well as David Lambert, with the aim of pursuing and furthering a pottery career.
Louise won two bursaries to attend UBC that summer where she developed her craft under the tutelage of BC luminaries such as Rex Mason, Hilda Ross, Olea Davis and Zoltan Kiss. It was there that she also studied sculpture with the famed Cubist, Alexander Archipenko, and pottery with Charles Lakofsky from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. For his part, Adolph began to study decorating, glazing and firing from John Reeve and Glen Lewis.
As their reputation and clientele grew, an expansion to their basement studio was necessary - which Adolph accomplished by hand with a shovel and a bucket. The Schwenks considered themselves "artist potters" and as such they created an abundance of forms - primarily functional tableware but also whimsical and sculptural creations. They also developed some recognizable "signature" glazes - such as turquoise, black lustre, and a dark brown glaze made from the ash of applewood.
As word of their work spread, the Schwenks quickly received accolades from across Canada. They were included in a number of national exhibitions and received a full feature article in Western Living magazine in April 1961. Their crowning achievement, however, was the award of a Senior Craftman's Fellowship from the Canadian Council in 1966 which would allow them to study abroad in Europe for a year.
Sadly it was on this trip abroad when Louise suddenly passed away in England. Adolph would follow her only two years later effectively ending the Schwenk pottery. Over the span of a decade they established themselves as important potters locally and nationally, succeeding Axel Ebring as the early and important Okanagan potters.
For more information on the life and careers of Louise and Adolph Schwenk, visit this website for a fuller account of their work.
If you have one or more pieces of Schwenk pottery you will to sell please contact me here.
Studio Pottery Canada
Pottery enthusiast learning about the history of this Canadian art form and curating samples from the best in the field pre-1980.