“Life with Clay”

As I said in the  last post, I wish The Art Caravan had been able to travel to Ottawa to see  the Alex Janvier show at the National Gallery of Canada.  I’m happy to report, however, that TAC has visited  The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s current exhibition Life with Clay:  Pottery & Sculpture by Jan and Helga Grove  a couple of times.  Life with Clay showcases the ceramic works of the German born couple, Jan and Helga Grove, who came to Canada in 1965, and operated a ceramics studio on Vancouver Island until 2009.  They exhibited and sold their work across Canada.

Life with Clay, Jan and Helga Grove

It’s the sculpture, really, that sets these two artist apart from other capable potters.  It is quirky, charming and beautifully executed.  Despite working together, and sharing a studio, Jan and Helga each has a distinctive style.  Note the smooth, bulbous shapes, as well as the more angular, animal-like sculptures.  Can you guess which pieces were made by Helga, and which were created by Jan?  (Why not take a moment to think about this before scrolling down?)

Life with Clay, Jan and Helga Grove

Vanity, Helga Grove, 1966

Mr.X, 1971 and Quadruped, Jan Grove, 1996

Mr.X, 1971 and Quadruped, Jan Grove, 1996

Mitz and Mautz, 2005, Helga Grove

Three Ballerinas, Jan Grove, 1989

Helga Grove

Helga Grove

If you are able, it’s a show worth visiting.  There are original photos, letters and documents detailing  this extraordinary couple’s  art history. In 1966, for instance, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria purchased a piece of work for $18.00!

Couple, Jan Grove, 1996

Life with Clay:  Pottery & Sculpture by Jan and Helga Grove is on until May 28, 2017. An excellent catalogue of the show is available.

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on ““Life with Clay”

  1. Scott

    I must admit it isn’t obvious to me that Helda and Jan have distinctive styles. I suppose I’m trapped in a stereotype assuming he be doing more angular/taller/ biggerwork, and she more rounded,shorter,smaller works given the timeframe they worked in. Enlighten me please.

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  2. terryvatrt Post author

    Hey, Scott, maybe I didn’t include enough photos, or maybe I’m seeing differences that aren’t there. She used a lot of incising in her work; his glazes and surfaces tended to be flat. He used wheel-thrown shapes, while she created the works from slabs. He used the glazes they used on the functional ware, while she mostly left her works unglazed, save for the incised lines. I should have included a link to their website, as there are more images available.
    Hope this helps.

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  3. Diane McGifford

    Thanks once again for reminding me that we do have an Art Gallery which has fine exhibits. Call me crazy but I think most pieces have both angles and curves. Just loved the cats.

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  4. terryvatrt Post author

    You’re not crazy! And since you’re the second person to comment about my statement, I think, perhaps, I am seeing things in my own ‘special’ way. Yes, it’s small, but there are good things at the AGGV.

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