Making faces

Meacham potter Bonnie Gilmour works on her collection of “ugly face jugs” while on an artists’ residency in Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie, France in 2014. (Photo courtesy Bonnie Gilmour)

Meacham potters’ exhibit, first shown in France, makes Canadian debut in PA

In 2014, potter Bonnie Gilmour and her “partner in life and in clay” Charley Farrero wanted to get away from their studio in Meacham, Sask. and create a new body of work inspired by new surroundings.

“It’s good practice for me. It puts me in a position where it’s just my own resources, what I brought with me… I’ve got the skills, which are in my head, and I’ve got the tools, which are my hands,” Gilmour said.

“Once I get firmly planted into a spot, that’s when things start to come alive and you just start feeding off of the pulse of a community.”

Gilmour and Farrero applied for a five-week artist’s residency in Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie, a small, medieval town with historical ties to pottery in the south of France. They were accepted and the following year they travelled to the village to create a series of ceramic “ugly face jugs.”

Ugly face jugs are a type of folk art originating from the American South, when jugs containing alcohol or poison would be decorated with scary faces to keep children away. Gilmour made 14 grotesque, cartoonish jugs, while Farrero created their hats.

“As soon as we arrived, we hopped right in,” Gilmour said of the trip.

“All the materials we had ordered prior, so everything was there and ready and then it was just a question of being influenced by the people around us, by the other artists, touring some other artists studios, spending time with other people, getting to know some of the French ways, going to the markets.”

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Got to go:

What? Opening reception: Le Look by Bonnie Gilmour and Charley Farrero

Where? Mann Art Gallery

When? Thursday, July13 at 7 p.m. Exhibit will be on display until Sept. 5.

Admission? Free