Scott Barnim: 40 Years: A Milestone in the Story of a Potter

He was five-years-old when he first saw a potter throwing at a Fair. He was fascinated and the whole day passed as he watched the potter at work. He knew that he had found the path for him, and what first became a dream, turned into a passion. He had his first experience with clay a few weeks later when his father dug up a pond for the family’s horses. At last, he had clay to make his first pots. The feeling of the clay between his fingers, the earthy smell, the creative possibilities, all contributed to direct him in his future career and 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of Scott Barnim as a professional potter.

Living in Dundas, Ontario, Barnim operates a pottery studio as well as participating in craft shows and gallery exhibitions around the province. Throughout his career, he has explored many techniques including salt, soda and wood firing; reduced lustre earthenware, and reduction fired stoneware. He has now embarked on new research into transfer print and flow blue.

Born, in 1957, and schooled in Brantford Ontario, his parents owned a leather goods and horse tack shop. His mom was a leather carver and silversmith and his dad was a farrier and blacksmith. In his two last years of high school, Scott Barnim took pottery classes at Mohawk College. In 1976, in his final year, while waiting for the bus, he checked the family mailbox to find an issue of Ceramics Monthly magazine that was devoted to British Ceramics, which sparked a keen interest in Barnim in the career of influential ceramists from the United Kingdom. Shortly after, he began a two-year apprenticeship in the studio of Donn Zver. Following this, he rented a studio from Bodil Pearson who went on to become a mentor and close friend. Other important mentors included British ceramist artists Mick Casson and Alan Caiger-Smith, both of whom were invited by Fusion—the provincial association for clay and glass—to give workshops in Ontario. Both Fusion events were attended by Barnim who made a point of keeping in touch with these important artists after the conclusion of the workshops. Casson influenced Barnin’s approach to his stoneware salt-glazed practice and he discovered luster-ware with Caiger-Smith. One of his early production lines was developed following a summer workshop at the farm of Mick Casson in 1989 who suggested that he look at the historical pottery found in his native Ontario region. For six years, Barnim produced work that was inspired by the antique pieces manufactured in Brantford more than a century before.

... he is creating a line of unique narrative work that will show icons of Dundas overlapped with issues of identity, culture and politics.