Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The DuPont 12 months of Twenty-Thirteen

In the first month of 2013, the DuPont family…
…Ice sculpted in -40 degrees, learned the art of the Winnipeg scarf wrap, said a sad goodbye to our beloved Papa.
In the second month of 2013, the DuPont family…
…lost a couple of teeth, celebrated Festival du Voyageur, got stranded in a blizzard in North Dakota.
In the third month of 2013, the DuPont family…
…hosted new friends and old in our Winnipeg home, learned to ride bikes in the snow and played Hide-N-Seekah.
In the fourth month of 2013, the DuPont family…
…had indoor picnics, easter egg hunts and waited for the floods.
In the fifth month of 2013, the DuPont family…
…watched the snow FINALLY recede, celebrated a birthday and had our first outdoor Picnic.
In the sixth month of 2013, the DuPont family…
…visited the shores of lake Winnipeg, packed pots and our belongings and headed back west.
In the seventh month of 2013, the DuPont family…
…hurriedly planted a garden, unpacked (sort of), and lived amidst forest fires and jet fuel spills.
In the eighth month of 2013, the DuPont family…
… shuffled around unpacked boxes, took home two first place ribbons in a bike race, hosted our annual Studio show & sale.
In the ninth month of 2013, the DuPont family…
…started back at school, enjoyed friends and local outings and were overwhelmed with the incredible support and comments that came with Robin’s RBC Emerging Artist Nomination.
In the tenth month of 2013, the DuPont family…
…dug trenches and installed water lines, continued to marvel at the support for handmade pottery, and travelled to Toronto for the People’s Choice event.
In the eleventh month of 2013, the DuPont family…
…took a deep breath, finally unpacked the remaining boxes and celebrated Isla’s 8th birthday with a big surprise party.
In the twelfth month of 2013, the DuPont family…
…welcomed a new niece to our extended family, celebrated Roscoe turning 6 with a skating party and hunkered down in our cozy home in the snowy Slocan Valley. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why I Should Blog

I admit to have fallen by the wayside with my posting. When I first started writing this blog, it was with the intention to document a specific time in our lives. We were a young family, headed off to do the unthinkable....go to grad school, post-babies. ACK! I thought it would be a good idea at the time to chronicle our adventures and experiences, so that we could one day look back and say " WOW, that was something else!"

Well, I do that, often. I browse back through old posts and remember and relive even some of those precious moments. And now I am asking myself, why did you ever slow down with it?

Admittedly life has been a little crazy. We left our home in the summer of 2008 with an infant and a toddler and moved to Utah to begin grad school, then three years later we moved home only temporarily to then pack up and move again with a preschooler and a grade schooler to take a job in Calgary, only to do it all over again the next year, but in Winnipeg. "WOW, that was something else!"

And now we are home, settling into our life and space in the Slocan valley, after 5 years of moving around. And I am feeling all the more reason to post and document this time in our lives, because life's opportunities seem like they've only just begun.

 Take this for example:)

Robin has been nominated for a prestigious award. He is one of five ceramic artists across Canada chosen to exhibit his work at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto as part of the 2013 RBC Emerging Artist Awards. You can view the piece he has submitted and watch a short video online where he talks about his work and practice by clicking on the link below.

It is a People's Choice award which means that the artist that receives the most votes will be awarded $10,000. We hope you'll help support him and vote online today. Voting closes October 13th, 2013 and Robin and I will fly to Toronto to attend the awards ceremony on the 15th.

We sincerely thank you in advance if you have already voted and a double thank you if you share this with your own network of friends and family through email or through posting the link on Facebook. Every vote counts!!

It has been incredible to read the comments and testimonials that have resulted as part of this show. I am blown away by the kind and supportive words that keep coming in. Robin is the only artist that is exhibiting functional ceramics in the mix of artists selected, and his nomination is a huge endorsement of making functional ceramics in today's day and age.

So if you enjoy your morning coffee out of a handmade mug, appreciate a meal served in a handcrafted dish, have ever purchased, gifted or been given a piece of pottery.....please vote for Robin online:


I can already hear myself saying, "WOW, that was something else!"

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A day at the beach

Packing has commenced and we are living amongst boxes and piles to sort through, pack up, throw out or give away. With our moving date just over a week away it seems absurd to take the day off and head to the beach, but that is exactly what we did today - and it turned out to be a well needed day off from reality.

One of Robin's former students very generously offered to host us for an afternoon out at their cottage at Victoria Beach on Lake Winnipeg. We'd heard much about the beautiful white sand beaches of Lake Winnipeg as popular cottage country for many Manitobans.

Although the water wasn't quite warm enough for swimming, it was a beautiful day to spend it walking along the shore looking for beach treasures and playing in the sand dunes. Many thanks to Peter and Daria for a wonderful day and meal.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sneak Peak

When we first rolled into town last summer late one August evening, we discovered a major landmark was being built just a stones throw away from our house - 'Peg Stadium' a.k.a. Investors Group Field was well underway and seemed enormous, towering over the University of Manitoba campus.

We watched the construction workers toil away all winter long, and when winter seemed to hang on unexpectedly this spring, we watched them toil a little harder, and then when winter finally did break, we watched them panic. There were plenty of rumours that it wouldn't be finished in time.

But seems like they are going to meet their target date after all, since we received an invitation to neighbourhood residents to come out for a viewing. Mostly an act of goodwill extended likely out of how the closest neighbours will be affected by traffic on game days, a nice gesture nonetheless to have a close look at the finished stadium.

We headed over later in the evening, and there were only a couple hundred people milling about. The kids loved it - running up and down the stairs and aisles, in fact circling the entire stadium on foot - twice!

We even ventured up to the nosebleeds for a look at the field from the highest vantage point. Although not a football fan, it was fun to check out the Bombers new digs. Looks like we'll be pulling out of town before the season opener, so we won't have to worry about the traffic woes!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Teddy Bears' Picnic

The much anticipated Teddy Bears' Picnic was today at Assiniboine Park. We'd heard about the annual event when we moved here - that it was a must 'do' with the kids while we were living here.

The annual event is a fundraiser and opportunity to raise the profile of the Winnipeg Children's Hospital, with all funds raised going towards the Children's Hospital Foundation. The main attraction being the Dr. Goodbear Clinic for which we waited nearly 45 minutes in line to admit our beloved 'maggie doll' as a patient alongside thousands of other children with their cherished stuffies.

Once inside the clinic we were ushered through the examination room, X-ray, surgery, recovery and pharmacy. Maggie was very well taken care of, and the kids learned a ton about caring for their sickies. At the MASH unit, Maggie got stitched up by a volunteer surgeon from the 17 Wing Field Ambulance unit and casted by another compassionate volunteer. Isla even got to gown up for a little intravenous lesson.

There were plenty of other tents and live music and food vendors and various entertainment booths for the kids and I practically had to coax them out of there dragging their little exhausted feet behind them.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Craftastics

At age 5 and 7, my children already have a running tally of exhibition openings under their belts. They have learned the art of reception table mingling, grown accustomed to weaving carefully through people and plinths and have heard the 'look with your eyes' warning from me a thousand times over. But tonight's exhibition took them a bit by surprise when we arrived at the opening for The Craftastics: Agents for Social Change.

Our good friend Jennie O (aka the Matriart and superhero and lead facilitator of this visual art project) inspired and collaborated with a group of teenage girls to create a public art project aimed at inspiring and empowering other teens to become creative agents of social change in their communities. Addressing issues like gender discrimination, stereotyping, body-issues, depression, anxiety, gossip, peer pressure and bullying - Jennie led the girls through an art project that helped give this group of girls a voice to express their views, experiences and opinions. 

The final work on exhibition was a series of fabricated costumes and sculpted clay and cloth dolls and corresponding superhero posters, with a deck of artist trading cards to showcase the superhero creations. 

Congratulations to Jennie and all the grrlz from the Valley Gardens Middle School Grrlz Club. What an amazing project and a great opportunity for my kids. I believe in taking my kids to exhibitions for more reasons than just the lame excuse of lack of childcare - I do it to provide exposure. I want them to grow up forming their own opinions about art and culture and learn to decide for themselves what resonates and what doesn't.

Thanks for the invite Jennie. Congrats!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Flood Watch

I don't want to jinx it, but I hear spring is actually just around the corner. They are forecasting warm weather next week and we, alongside of everyone else in Winnipeg, are looking forward to seeing the dirty piles of snow melt away. But not too fast. Because then it might flood. Sigh!

The kids and I went for a walk down to the river to see what it looks like before the annual flooding begins here. As the Red River interestingly flows north instead of south, Manitobans look to their neighbors to the south in North Dakota to help predict flood levels.

They've already been sandbagging down south and the big fear is with ice dams since there is still quite a big of ice on the river.

The river is predicted to go up 12 feet in the next couple days! We figured we better a closer look at what the river is like now because it'll look a whole lot different after the weekend.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Walk in the Park

It was a beautiful evening tonight and Isla and I walked down to King's Park to get our blood moving after supper. We have been so lucky with our little house here in Winnipeg, couldn't have asked for a better location.

The fields and trails that we biked in the fall and XC skied this winter are still covered in snow and ice, but the weather seems a little milder and a little more hospitable each day.

The sun was just starting to set and cast an interesting light on the park on our walk tonight.

I am so impressed with Isla's enthusiasm for getting out, she is always up for some exercise and adventure, especially when it delays her bedtime!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Spring 'Break'

Our Spring Break has come and gone. And although the word 'Spring' doesn't come to mind to describe our week off of school, there was in fact a 'Break' - an unfortunate one!

Our poor little friend Eden and I now have another thing in common (other than our name). We both broke our leg downhill skiing at a young age! Little Eden landed herself in a cast after a very unfortunate dismount off the towrope on a day that was meant to be the kickstarter to a fantastic week of spring break adventures with our two families.
Carmen and I managed to re-think our initial plans and came up with a variety of outings that included some fun places, all equipped with public wheelchairs. I was amazed at Eden's spirit and Isla's need to nurture her little friend made for some memorable times.

We hit the aisles of IKEA and the Manitoba Museum, not to mention several indoor playdates that involved picnics, painting toes and craft making sessions.

Spring keeps promising to arrive, and hopefully before we know it we'll be saying, 'remember the winter that never ended......and when Eden broke her leg?????'

Monday, April 1, 2013

Most Deserving

It's nothing short of challenging to juggle a full time teaching schedule and your own creative practice.

In the few years that Robin has been committed to a teaching position in the field, I'm never surprised to see him head back to the studio, knowing that there are still several hours in the day for making pots, well after classes are over and the kids are in bed.

All the more reason to celebrate those that are able to find the balance and discover that the rewards outweigh the challenges. And even more remarkable are those that willingly share their knowledge and experience along the way, as teachers and mentors that seem to invest equally as much energy into their students professional thinking, creativity and success as their own.

This past month, two individuals were recognized for their outstanding achievements and in turn their influence and contributions to the field of ceramics.

Congratulations to Greg Payce, Governor General's Award recipient in the Visual and Media Arts by the Canada Council for the Arts. Greg received the Saidye Bronfman Award which recognizes excellence in the fine crafts in Canada.

And congratulations to John Neely, who has been named Utah State University's 2013 D. Wynne Thorne Career Research awardee - USU's highest research honour and the first fine artist to receive this distinction.

Both outstanding individuals who have influenced our lives and we are so lucky to call friends.

I love it when good things happen to good people.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Snow, snow, go away

Robin rides his bike to and from the studio several times a day, and has done so all winter long. Even on the coldest mornings in January this year, he would bundle up and we'd watch from the window as he'd clear off any fallen snow and swing his leg over his cruiser and take off down the street. 

I shouldn't be surprised that my son is anxious and eager to get back on his bike. In fact, I'm surprised I have been able to keep him from hauling it out of the shed up until this point in the year. And with April just a few days away, I'd hoped we'd be riding muddy trails by now, but unfortunately winter continues to prevail.  Although in the last few weeks, the intensity of the sun has dared us out a couple times. 

C'mon spring.....we're ready for you. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Our pal Adam Field is the mastermind behind this fun event happening at the NCECA conference in Houston next week. 

Robin is participating as one of the artists. @robindupontpottery He is over at the studio unloading a kiln full of hot pots as I type this. One of those pots will be hidden somewhere in Houston next week, keep your eyes peeled and your filters ready if you are going to play. Finders keepers!

HIDE'N'SEEKAH will be hiding 36 pieces of pottery in Houston, TX during this year's NCECA conference. Clues to find each artist's work will be posted on their own personal Instagram feed (which is why you have to follow all 36 of them and not just the HIDE'N'SEEKAH). Not on Instagram? No better time to start! Finders Keepers! HIDE'N'SEEKAH is NOT an official NCECA event!!! Images in the poster do not necessarily represent the pieces to be hidden. @hidenseekah

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Our week of hosting both new friends and old in our Winnipeg digs went by in a flash. And I shouldn't be surprised that the kids loved every minute of having someone new around to tell jokes to, put on their acts and ask a million questions of.

And I admit, I fully enjoyed having more reason to bake a few extra treats, and the social delight of getting to know Ayumi Horie and catching up with Brendan Tang while they were our house guests.

The early part of the week was a little quieter as Isla was not quite herself and feeling under the weather. But she perked up in time for a trip to the zoo to see the white buffalo with our first guest, Ayumi. 

It makes me proud that I can take my kids to an artist talk or a demo and know that their world is being shaped and influenced by all the amazing people we traipse through their lives. When I think of all the places we have lived and visited in even just the short span of their young lives, it is an outstanding community to belong to.

I'm equally as grateful to know that my children are consistently surrounded by a creative community full of inspiring people that are simply doing what they love to do.

Monday, March 4, 2013

House Guests

Looking forward to this week full of visitors. Our first guest Ayumi Horie arrives tonight in a snowstorm. Welcome to Winterpeg Ayumi! 
And then on Wednesday, our pal Brendan Tang arrives! The Ceramics club at the University is bringing both artists to the University for a week of workshops, lectures and demos. 

We're excited to have them staying with us at chalet 'DuPont'!

Friday, March 1, 2013

That's the spirit!

Although not sad to have February over, looking back on what seemed like an exceptionally long month, we sure had some fun winter experiences here in Winnipeg. I have to applaud the way winter is embraced by Manitobans, they certainly don't hide out in their homes even when it is -30.

The much talked about Festival du Voyageur opened us up to the historical French-Canadian culture. Each february, the official festival kicks off a 10 day celebration that focuses on the important history and joie de vivre of the early fur traders who established the Red River Colony.

With an emphasis on the beauty of winter, the festival celebrations extend beyond the Voyageur Park, and there are things scheduled and events occurring all over the city, or the province for that matter.

We made sure we didn't miss the magnificent snow sculptures and famous ice slide and the kids took a voyageur apprentice workshop from the interpreters at the historical Fort Gibraltar site.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bacon Sticky Buns?

Hole in the Wall Johnnie's Sticky Buns is my latest Winnipeg favourite and blows any franchised cinnamon bun store out of the competition.

We sampled the B.A.M. (Bacon, Apple and Maple), alongside a Lemon Meringue and the Monkey Brains pullapart  this weekend with our pals Chris and Lucie.

It's these kind of independently owned businesses that make exploring Winnipeg and all it has to offer such a treat!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Our Dance with Dolley

Who knew that blizzards were assigned names? I suppose if a winter storm is intense enough, that it should be given the same privilege as having a moniker assigned as would a hurricane, right? Well, Blizzard Dolley left us stranded last weekend in Grand Forks, North Dakota. And Dolley was certainly intense enough to warrant her own name.  

We decided to take a trip down across the border rather late in the week, having heard rumours of a waterpark that promised to brighten any child's winter doldrums. We packed enough for an overnight and made the uneventful trip south, and snuggled down in our hotel beds Sunday nightnever anticipating what was brewing weather wise outside.

President's Day Monday, we woke up to white out conditions and nothing short of confused mayhem beyond our hotel room. Having learned that much of the Red River Valley was in a no-travel advisory which meant the highways were closed and there was no way we could make the trip home even if we wanted to! 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Break

Old Man Winter took pity on us this weekend, and gave us a break in the cold spell we've been having. The sun was out, with temperatures still below zero, but nearly 20 degrees warmer than it had been all week. And like so many others feeling cooped up, we grabbed our skates and headed down to the Forks where there were massive crowds and plenty to see and do. 

But we were most excited about checking out what the daddy has been up to, as he's been taking somewhat of a break from his long studio hours on the weekends to help out on a snow sculpting project.
For the last three weekends, Chris and Robin have been planning and prepping for a series of large scale snow sculptures down at the Forks. The first weekend they built the forms and packed them full of snow. Then last weekend they thought better than to start sculpting in the bitter cold and spent some time in the shop building custom carving tools instead. 

And then as if they'd planned for it, this weekend made for the perfect timing to tear down the forms and start sculpting. It was fantastic to see them come to life and plenty of people interested in watching the guys in action. Winnipeg is known for its outdoor culture and flourishing arts scene, so it only seemed obvious that a snow sculpting experience would be one you wouldn't want to miss out on during our year here. 

 "A bunch of bonhomie"

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Art of Scarfing

Well we survived our first Winnipeg deep freeze.

Temperatures were in the -20s and -30s all week, with windchills that made it feel more like -40C! And we soon realized that a little cold snap doesn't slow anyone down around these parts, the cold is just a way of life here.

The schools remain open, university classes don't miss a beat, transit runs and the sun shines!

Besides a little cold weather drama at the kid's school with the ridiculous temperatures setting the fire alarms off, and a frayed extension cord on the car making it a little difficult to get that block heater warmed up - we endured like the rest of Winnipeg.

A few little survival tips we learned throughout the week:

1. Plug in
Adding the little ritual of plugging in the car before we went off to bed meant the difference between going anywhere the next day or not. (Once we replaced the frayed cord of course!)

2. Stock up
Unnecessary trips in the car are just a bad idea. One big grocery shop at the beginning of the week and no hesitating looking a little harder in the cupboard for something to make for dinner.

3. The Art of the Scarf
I now have a new appreciation and talent for wrapping a scarf around my own and my children's faces to ward off a biting wind. I may never need to use this talent back in BC, but we sure are getting lots of practice here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Minus WHAT!?!

Less than 5 mins and my eyelashes are frozen!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Face Off!

As in, Freeze your Face Off! We are a week into a true deep freeze here in the 'Peg'. The cold, cold temperatures have meant several indoor recess days for the kids, and me sprinting to my car between pick ups and drop offs.

Yesterday it warmed (slightly) and with double digit negative temperatures predicted for another week, we decided to brave an outdoor outing to get the wiggles out of our system. After school we met up with our pals down at the Forks - the heart of Winnipeg and a downtown riverside attraction. The Forks is a public venue, home to a great indoor market, various restaurants, shops and museums surrounded by kms of trails & outdoor play-spaces.

During the winter months, the bike trails and bridges are iced and several rinks are created for skating, both on the river and around the park. We stayed and played well past dusk and both the kids asked if we could come back tomorrow? To which I replied, "Of course! but let's check the temperatures first."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Goodnight Papa

We begin 2013 with heavy hearts, having said goodbye to our much loved Papa Regan. Last month we changed our holiday plans and decided to brave the prairie roads and drive home for the holidays.

And now we are feeling so grateful for our decision and the greatest gift received this Christmas was the opportunity to tell him just how much he meant to us.

Robin's grandpa so easily became a part of our everyday lives in the valley when he moved there shortly after Isla was born.
Never one to miss a firing, a potluck or the opportunity to visit over a cup of tea, Grandpa brought wisdom and joy to every occasion.

We will be forever grateful for the invaluable role he filled and we'll honour his life by living ours the way he lived his; with compassion, with generosity and with a never ending sense of curiosity.

With so few words, he taught us so much. Goodnight Papa, sleep well.