The history of pottery and ceramics dates back to 29,000 BCE, and even though local potter Eryn Prospero doesn’t draw inspiration from the ancient roots of her craft, her work does resemble pottery from the early 20th century.
“Since the beginning of time, I was into really homey, earthy and sturdy mugs, even before I was a potter,” said Prospero. “I like the really big token tea mug. When I went to Kootenay School of the Arts we started learning a lot about art history and the history of ceramics, which is extensive. I came across English pottery from the beginning of the 20th century. Bernard Leach who was this amazing potter, his mugs were big and beefy. They were brown and I’m into brown and they are kind of funky. “
Prospero’s history began in Toronto where she was born.
“I did a university degree there and realized that I don’t want to be an environmentalist, well I am an environmentalist but I didn’t want to make it my profession,” she said.
While still in university, Prospero also began exploring the fine arts.
“I really got into clay. I did some night courses there and belonged to an open studio in Toronto. I was craving more. My work was really bad and it wasn’t getting any better, it was pure hobby for me but I loved it,” she said.
In search of inspiration and following something in her subconscious pushing her west, Prospero travelled out to BC.
“I came travelling out here just to check BC out and go to [Vancouver] Island. Subconsciously I wanted to move out here and I think coming to Nelson and learning about the school just gave me that push I needed to get my stick on the ice and save some cash to come out here and do school and become a potter,” she said.
In addition to being inspired by English pottery, Prospero travelled to the US to do an apprenticeship which further developed her style.
“I did an apprenticeship with this guy Mark Hewitt. He throws English style utilitarian pottery and I got to work with him throw his forms and his shapes and glaze with him and that really helped shape my tastes a little bit,” she said.
Even though she was influenced by other potters, what ultimately helped shape the style of pottery she was making was her desire to create something that her clients would use everyday.
“I’ve always thrown super chunky comfortable warm pottery that you want to use every day. I love thin pottery but it doesn’t work, I will break it. This is just a reflection of my shapes in my life,” said Prospero.
The arts community in Nelson has responded well to her pottery, and recently at the Hills Garlic Festival, she nearly sold out of everything she had.
“People are excited, and they buy multiple pieces,” said Prospero. “I have a couple fans who are always at the markets and looking at my new things. People have given me some really nice complements about it. They have told me they wake up every morning and they use the same mug and they think of me. I’m creating value for people and giving them that little token that they covet. I love that and people love that I make things that they love.”
Prospero along with four other artists have created a “creative hub” in a automotive garage near the corner of Stanley and Vernon.
“Brenda is the weaver, and Jimmy is a wood worker and Thomas and Brian are downstairs and they are metal workers.
“It’s awesome to be around everyone who’s working on different projects and we’re all giving each other input and critiquing and laughing and having a good time,” she said. “It’s noisy and people are talking and there’s music. It’s an awesome creative flow of people. I like the company and having people around.”
Even though it feels like summer just ended, Prospero is already gearing up for Christmas markets where she will be selling bowls, plates, mugs and more.
For more information about Eryn Prospero visit her blog at prosperopottery.wordpress.com or to arrange a studio visit call 250-352-2915.