Where Have All the Potters Gone?
In 2011, studio potter Valerie Metcalfe and founding member of the Stoneware Gallery, a co-op studio, teaching space and retail shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada expressed her concern about the small number of young people choosing a career in studio ceramics. She wondered if there would be anyone to replace their founding members as they begin to retire. Tony and Sheila Clennell, owners of Sour Cherry Pottery in Beamsville, Ontario, sat with me in the warm sun of a November day in the Niagara Green Belt of Canada. We chatted about the decline in studio sales in one of Canada’s busiest tourist districts. Increasingly students remarked on their lack of skill in throwing and firing kilns that would help them establish their own viable future in studio ceramics. Throughout these conversations, I began to notice a decline in enrolments in basic ceramics courses.