Neil and Anita Lawrence
North Island Clayworks produces functional and decorative stoneware pottery fired to cone 5/6 in an electric kiln. All functional pieces are fired with lead free glazes and are oven and dishwasher safe. Our signature pieces are made by using a combination of sgrafitto techniques (scratching through the upper layer to reveal the clay) and hand painting using engobes and terra sigilatta (a fine coating of clay). This handcrafted process allows each piece to have its own unique quality.
My goal as an artist is to create artwork which reflects the environment in which I live in. I have lived all but 4 years of my life on Vancouver Island, the majority of those years spent in Gold River. I have been strongly influenced by the beauty of the islands rugged coastlines and majestic wildlife as well as the history and art of the first nations. Our environment is constantly changing due to man and mother nature. The population of the island is growing rapidly as is the pace of clear cutting, which has altered landscapes to unrecognizable states. So too is the fragile state of our waterways and the life that depends on them. I like to think of each ceramic piece as a time capsule in a sense, capturing a glimpse of this period of time I have been blessed with on the island and perhaps in a historical sense, documenting the landscape and wildlife of our era. With global environmental issues being forefront today, I had to take a look at what I am doing as an artist to make a difference. As a result, I am now using almost solely terra sigillatas (clay) and engobes in my decorating to minimize the chance of pollutants leaching into the environment. I have also recently downsized my studio to one which is half the size and more energy efficient. If everyone would make a couple minor changes, it would translate to major changes to the earth’s health in the future.
I first discovered clay in high school and decided then that it would play a major role in my life somehow. The next few years led me on a journey of self discovery and education through art school, various jobs and experiences. After some time and a move to a new city, clay became my new hobby and this hobby quickly turned into countless hours in the studio and eventually led to teaching others. Now almost 20 years later I still find so much satisfaction in the rhythmic motion of clay and what can be created from a solid block of the stuff. I don’t embrace any particular theory around my work; I just love making pots that people can enjoy with a great meal, tea time or a glass of wine with a friend. My pots are utilitarian for the most part, although I do find time to break away from that and create some sculptural pieces. I believe the process of creating something out of your comfort zone is totally necessary for growth as an artist and teaches us something more about ourselves and how we relate to our environment.