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Residents of Peace Country will have the opportunity to see pottery created by a local artist trained in the art of Japanese pottery at a new art exhibition opening this month in Beaverlodge.

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The exhibit, titled “High Fire,” can be viewed at the Beaverlodge Art and Culture Center from October 31 to November 25, and is primarily a pottery exhibit created by artist Bibi Clement using a traditional kiln. Japanese Anagama.

The exhibition will also feature pieces by Lane Borstad, retired GPRC art history professor and friend of Clément.

“Bibi has been doing this for many years and she is truly a master craftsman, she is very revered in large communities,” Borstad said.

Clément has lived in the Peace Region since 1993, and before that she was a fashion designer, filmmaker and clay artist in cities such as Algiers, Paris and Vancouver.

Clément has been studying with Japanese master potters since 1997 and has built a clientele in Canada and Japan.

“She studied in Japan, she exhibited in Japan, she taught in Japan, and she brought in Japanese master potters to do workshops here in Hythe a few times,” Borstad said.

For decades, Bibi’s hands have created beautiful pottery enameled with ash and Raku. His collection will be on display in the main gallery of BACS from October 31 to November 25. Photo by David McGregor

According to Borstad, this style of pottery originated in Korea and Japan and dates back hundreds of years. The pottery is built around the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi which celebrates the idea of ​​impermanence.

“The idea that change is the constant, and the beauty of things is in imperfection and incompleteness, it’s kind of a humble and modest thing,” Borstad said.

According to Borstad, Clement was one of the first people in Western Canada to own a full-scale Anagama oven, and his work is in collections across Western Canada.

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“Bibi’s aesthetic is about the artist producing a unique object and everyone in their process is different,” Borstad said. “Even when you have a set of tableware from her, every plate, every mug and every item in [set] has a unique character.

The process is created by adding wood to the oven fire every 20 to 30 seconds, 24 hours a day, for three to five days.

The heat inside the kiln becomes so intense that the ashes inside turn into glass which flows over all the pottery.

“It’s not something you can have absolute control over,” Borstad said, adding “it’s part of the Japanese aesthetic about nature, change and impermanence.”

Clement also injects salt into the kiln, which creates additional texture for the pottery, and according to Borstad he is unaware of any other potter in the north using this process.

“It creates that very special kind of beauty that you can’t get in a mechanical oven,” Borstad said.

The colossal hand-built Anagama kiln sits on Bibi Clement's rural estate and is responsible for the naturally glazed and high-temperature fired ceramics for which Clément is esteemed.
The colossal hand-built Anagama kiln sits on Bibi Clement’s rural estate and is responsible for the naturally glazed and high-temperature fired ceramics for which Clément is esteemed. Photo by David McGregor

Borstad met Clément 25 years ago while teaching workshops to students at GPRC, but it was in retirement that Borstad cultivated a friendship with Clément and decided to pursue pottery.

“I fell totally in love with his Anagama process,” Borstad said.

Borstad will also sell a special line of soup bowls he created and all proceeds will go to the Beaverlodge Food Bank.

Admission to the exhibition is free and the Beaverlodge Arts and Culture Center is open Tuesday through Sunday.

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