The Conversation -A sea Change By Dorothy Spencer
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I am originally from Vancouver and have lived most of my life in the Northwest Coast of British Columbia. As a teenager I was introduced to clay in high school and became an assistant for the assorted pottery teachers who were brought in by Douglas College (New Westminster, BC) for night school classes. Then I moved up the coast to work for the Canadian Coast Guard on two remote Lighthouse Stations. In 1980, I moved to Prince Rupert, B.C., to live on a fishing boat and explore the more remote surrounding islands, and even living off the grid on a few of them.
Prince Rupert remained my home base for over 20 years. I taught pottery classes at the Civic Centre, helped organize a Potters Guild of 30 members, and was the Emily Carr Outreach Program coordinator for Northwest Community College, bringing in many ceramic artists to teach weekend workshops. We had artists Walter Dexter, Denys James, Bob Kingsmill, and Lise Siegel in ceramics but also brought in other artists for the camera club and painters of Prince Rupert. During this time, I became a board member of the Prince Rupert Arts Council to increase the Visual Arts profile of the city.
I attended summer programs at Emily Carr University of Art and Design for ceramic classes with John Chalk, and John Reeves, and then started a 30-year career BC Ferries. During this time, I had many studios, in an old laundry mat, in someone’s backyard, in someone else’s basement. From 1996-2003 I shared a business in a historical fishing net loft with a sushi restaurant. The Loft became my studio/ gallery, and I represented many Northern artists such as Edward Epp, Jo Souter, Amy Huestis and Leslie Barnwell; designers Sid Dickens and Morgan Green, tile artist Auriane Dougably; and myself as a ceramic sculptor. The Loft also held special exhibitions promoting some Haida Gwaii Artists, such as jeweler Morgan Bristol, bookmaker Dawn Geddes, assemblage painter Simon Davies, seagrass sculptor Shannon Greenwood, photographer Ron McKee, and fibre printer Brian Eccles.
In 2002 I moved to my Haida Gwaii home in Masset and retired shortly after from BC Ferries. I have been living and working in a ceramic studio in Barcelona, Spain since 2016, as my partner and I love both the natural coastal world, and the busy life of cities.