Yesterday was orientation day at Medalta for the 14 summer resident artists, this morning the clay arrived from Plainsman across the street and by this afternoon pots were already beginning to pop up on ware racks.
It's just beginning to sink in, where we DuPonts have landed for the month. The Medalta Historic Clay District was once home to some of Canada's most important clay factories and at the turn of the last century the city of Medicine Hat was considered the largest manufacturing centre in the west thanks to the production of pottery! With geology in its favour, the clay products industry here benefitted from an abundant supply of clay, not to mention the abundant source of natural gas in the area used to fire the kilns. The history of this place has been preserved with the Medalta Potteries National Historic site through a living, working museum, and now through the Medalta International Artists in Residence program, of which Robin is the featured artist, it is a place for contemporary ceramics to flourish.
We were all invited to a welcome potluck last night where I had the chance to meet most of the summer participants. This summer residency is the largest one that Medalta offers, and as I toured the studios this afternoon with the Artistic Director Aaron Nelson, even I, the non-potter, was filled with excitement about the brand new 12, 000 sq ft studio space. Even more thrilling for me though was a spin through the new interpretive exhibit space. Medalta seems like a marriage of both Robin and my keenest interests - clay world meets museum world! It's just so cool that we're here.
And now that the kids have a had a couple days to get acquainted with their new surroundings, they seem pretty happy, perhaps feeding off the vibe Robin and I are giving off. I am equally as excited for them to explore the site and make regular appearances in the studios this month. The residents are a good cross section of folks from all over, a diverse group with many diverse experiences in the field of ceramics and most importantly seemingly content to have a couple of kids hanging around.