New exhibit shows what happens when artists "raid" a ceramics studio

The exhibition opens this Saturday, August 17 (noon to 4 p.m.) and runs until September 8.

Terminal Creek Contemporary in Artisan Square has a new exhibit opening this weekend, “The Raiders." This show’s curator is Kate Bellringer, director of the Burrard Arts Foundation. Kate was kind enough to answer a few questions for the Undercurrent. 

Where did the “raids” originate?

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Artists Eric Metcalfe and Gillian McMillan had collaborated on a couple of projects in the mid- to late 90’s, and became good friends. Gillian, the expert ceramicist, would create forms to Eric’s specifications for him to paint. Eric enjoyed his trips to Gillian’s ceramic studio in Port Moody so much that he began to invite his artist friends to join him to “raid” Gillian’s studio for ceramics to paint; this is where the term “Raiders” comes from. 

What would happen at a typical raid?

After participating myself this spring, I found out that the typical raid is an extremely civilized event. Artists make the short trip to Port Moody with a potluck item in tow. The day starts out with a cup of tea and the choosing of your ceramic form, followed by a few hours of painting and discussing local art, news, and comparing techniques. The group breaks for lunch, and then the afternoon is spent finishing their plates with more socializing. 

 How many have there been?

Roughly six times per year for the past 10 years, Gillian has created slab plates and earthenware for the invited group of artists to approach with their own painting techniques. 

What happens to the works after a raid?

After the raid is complete, Gillian takes on the task of firing the painted ceramics in her home kiln. She also has a very active blog where she logs the raid participants, the final products, and of course, the lunch!

What is your connection to the raids?

Five years ago, Eric and I became friends after working together on a mural for Burrard Arts Foundation, where I am the director. After the mural was complete, we kept up with our coffee meetings, where Eric would update me on the latest raids and send me Gillian’s blog entries. I was always fascinated to learn about how all these established artists would approach painting on such a different surface than their usual artistic practice. 

Why is “The Raiders” exhibit happening now?

Although artists have been participating in raids for the past ten years, the group is not well-known even in the arts community. When Scott and Laura invited me to curate a show at their newly established Terminal Creek Contemporary gallery, I immediately thought about sharing the story of this group. 

What can we expect in this exhibit?

This exhibition brings together ceramic works painted by many different artists, at almost as many different raids. By experiencing them all together, the viewer learns the story of this unique slice of local art history.

When does it run and when is the opening reception?

The exhibition opens this Saturday, August 17 (noon to 4 p.m.) and runs until September 8.

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