It never fails to amaze me how after driving the same highway for over 20 years we can still find new creative things to see on the way home. Often the four hour drive ends up in sleepy silence but this week we got away from the city in daylight and found the time to stop at the Urban Forest Pottery Studio. The smell of fresh rain on autumn leaves and wood smoke were welcome distractions on this much needed break after hours of being in the car. Potters Enzien Kufeld and Christian Barr were home and we got the tour!
They are the perfect example of why our advocacy work for the past 20+ years still keeps us passionate about the artistic process. We have seen their art in several galleries around the province but this brief tourist trek around their world surpassed any gallery visit or exhibition. To stand in their – yes IN – their kiln and imagine four days of stoking the fire to produce 40 foot flames to push through the claywork…mind boggling. Christian compares the firing of the kiln and the flames to water flowing over rocks in a riverbed. The smaller kiln (also woodfired) has a smaller firebox so while it doesn’t require monitoring by several people to keep it stoked – but it does require stoking every few minutes. For days.
‘Wood firing is an ancient technique used in many global cultures and was the first process to reach the high temperatures necessary (1200 to 1300 degrees Celsius is common) to vitrify stoneware and porcelain clays. It is the most labour and time intensive, and most expensive way to fire. With near limitless variables, it presents the most mentally, physically and emotionally challenging firing process. To be a wood-firer one must be passionate about it, as there is no other way to create its result in finishing one’s work.” C.Barr and E.Kufeld
While telling others about the things we find when we travel the province(s) is a lot of fun – we hope you get out and seek these adventures on your own. Let the Arts speak for themselves!