South Surrey pots featured in new Canadian TV show

South Surrey potter Sue Johnston is set to become a TV star in a suspenseful reality series about – what else? – pottery.

Johnston, a member of the Semiahmoo Potters Club and founding member of the Crescent Park Pottery Studio, will be one of 10 potters from across Canada featured in the first season of Great Canadian pottery thrown to the grounda new CBC television series set to debut at 8 p.m. PT next Thursday (February 8) on CBC/Gem.

Produced by Vancouver-based actor and comedy star Seth Rogen (himself an avid potter, appearing in introductory segments), the hour-long episodes, modeled after the British series The great discarded potterywill be hosted by the famous Canadian actress Jennifer Robertson (Jocelyn, the mayor’s wife, in Schitt Creek).

Potters will compete to be crowned “best at the wheel”; take on two creative challenges each week to test their skills and technique.

READ ALSO : South Surrey Pottery Sale offers Mother’s Day gift ideas

According to the CBC show’s website, “‘Master Craft’ is the biggest challenge of each episode where the potters create an iconic piece of pottery that involves several key steps including building, drying, refining, glazing, firing and assembly. »

While this seems to give every potter at least a little time to think and prepare carefully, the second challenge is all the more diabolical.

This will be either, the website states, “a ‘throw’, which is a race against time, or a ‘spot test’ measuring a specific skill or technique.”

Regardless of which direction the competition goes, Johnston said, she is very excited to participate in the show’s first season, filmed in what was the ceramics studio in the former home of the School of Art and design Emily Carr at Granville Island, and judged by renowned sculptural ceramicist Brendan Tang, instructor at Emily Carr, and Toronto-based ceramic artist and educator Natalie Waddell, as well as occasional guest judges.

A retired Surrey School District art teacher (she taught at Fleetwood High School), Johnston and her husband, former city auditor Archie, moved to South Surrey about 28 years ago, where they raised their three children.

“We now have four grandchildren, and a few more on the way,” Johnston said. “The whole family is very excited to see the show and very proud of me for taking part. And Archie is holding down the fort – and helping me calm down!”

She said she first became involved in the project about a year ago, when a call went out to recruit participants for the “Canada’s Best Potter” competition.

Her application was followed by an email and Zoom meeting, followed by CBC herself and other shortlisted potters flying to Toronto for an initial trial session.

“Luckily for me, after retiring eight years ago, I was able to study for my ceramics certificate at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I credit this with giving me a broad enough profile in ceramic work to be able to take on the challenges – I was in a good position to move forward with the competition.

Johnston’s specialty is what she calls “sculptural Canadiana”: large, functional vases typically decorated with sculptural forms.

The exhibition, while showcasing sculptural work, also focuses heavily on decorative pieces – which Johnston describes as “pottery that exhibits beautiful artistry, but is also very functional.”

“Probably the biggest highlight for me was connecting with the other potters,” she said. “They come from all over the country, and you can see the talent in Canada is vast and vast. The BC pottery community is a close-knit group, so it’s good to know what’s happening in other areas. “It’s a huge country, unlike the UK, where most of the show’s contestants live just half an hour from each other.”

The exhibition also highlights the resurgence of pottery as a folk art form in recent years, Johnston added.

“I’m the oldest participant,” she said. “It’s a very young and dynamic group.”

At the same time, Johnston said, she was very happy to carry the Surrey flag on the show.

“Surrey is a pretty exciting place,” she said, noting that the city recently renovated the Crescent Park Pottery Studio founded by her mentor Don Hutchinson.

“It’s also vibrant, with lots of growth – I’m a very proud Surrey resident!” »

Alice Williamson

"Explorer. Food advocate. Analyst. Freelance bacon practitioner. Future teen idol. Proud pop culture expert."

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