Duncan Tweed, manager and teacher at The Workshop: Studio and Gallery in Salmon Arm, works with ceramics prior to the Okanagan Potters show June 2-3 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre. (Photo submitted)

Duncan Tweed, manager and teacher at The Workshop: Studio and Gallery in Salmon Arm, works with ceramics prior to the Okanagan Potters show June 2-3 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre. (Photo submitted)

A new pottery wheel is spinning

The Okanagan Potters show runs June 2-3 at the Performing Arts Centre

Often when you hear the word pottery, images of Patrick Swayze helping Demi Moore create a work of art to the sound of Unchained Melody appears in the mind’s eye. But the art of pottery is more than just a famous romantic scene from 1990’s Ghost.

The Okanagan Potters show runs June 2-3 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre, displaying functional and decorative pottery, clay jewelry and sculptures, sterling silver and copper jewelry, and glass art from members of the Okanagan Potters. New to the rotation is Duncan Tweed, manager and teacher at The Workshop: Studio and Gallery in Salmon Arm.

“I started doing ceramics in high school and was hooked from the beginning,” said Tweed. “The process was so meditative and I deeply enjoyed creating things with my hands.”

During his four years at his high school in Glendale, Ariz., Tweed took ceramics courses every semester.

“It wasn’t uncommon for me to be late for a team practice from working late on a personal project in the ceramics lab.”

During his senior year, Tweed worked as an assistant to a local artist, giving him an understanding of the work ethic required of a successful artist.

After graduating, Tweed went to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where he completed a bachelor of fine arts in ceramics and a bachelor of science in business administration in management, where he met K.J. MacAlister of Edmonton, Alta., who owns both The Workshop: Studio and Gallery and Viva Clayworks in Edmonton.

“We became good friends, and she offered me a position teaching and managing the studio up here as things got started,” said Tweed. “Since I’ve been up here, I’ve spent significant time on a new line of work that focuses on the malleable and fluid nature of clay. I’ve also been able to do extensive glaze testing to achieve surfaces that both complement and accentuate these new forms.”

Since December, Tweed has gone through more than 500 test tiles to find the best possible glazes and colour combinations.

Currently on a two-year working visa, Tweed hopes to extend his stay and is considering becoming a citizen in the future.

“I love it here,” said Tweed of his new home in B.C. When he isn’t working on ceramics, the 28-year-old spends his time outdoors, doing everything from rock climbing to photography.

But ceramics is his true passion.

Tweed breaks his work up into two separate categories: functional and sculptural. Each category has its own style and purpose, though they share similar methods of creation.

“My sculptural work pushes the boundaries of a vessel without function,” said Tweed. “Though wheel-thrown and hollow, it would be, for the most part, impractical to use these forms for most material purposes. I create these forms with the intention that they’re able to stand alone as works of art. I alter the form’s volume, shape, and texture to create a canvas on which to glaze.”

Tweed uses the glazing process to create depth and contrast in his work.

“Others are fired in atmospheric kilns, which yield spontaneous and occasionally serendipitous results.”

In contrast, with what he refers to as his functional line of work, Tweed attempts to strike a balance between the art and craft of ceramics.

“I seek to create unique forms that are not only a joy to use but also a delight to observe — items that feel at home in your hand but also yield aesthetically pleasing intricacies that can’t be observed when the item sits on a distant shelf.

“My hope is to create a relationship between the form and the user, potentially changing a mundane task into a sought-after experience.”

Tweed’s work is on display at the Okanagan Potters show June 2 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and June 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the foyer of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre.