Category Archives: Blog


Tracks: Mostly New Vessels (review)

Tracks: Mostly New Vessels
by Chris Pancoe
Winnipeg Art Gallery Shop
November 8th– December 1st

So often with craft based work there is a push and pull between ideas of form and function. If something is purely functional then why do we care what it looks like, and if something is beautiful or intriguing then why do we care if it is functional? I have always been inspired by artists whose work manages to do both. Chris Pancoe is one of those artists, and in his current exhibition Tracks:  Mostly New Vessels (on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery Shop), the discussion goes beyond the medium and into the subject of the work itself.

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The exhibition features a variety of large sculpted ceramic vessels inspired by abandoned industrial areas in Pancoe’s neighborhood. Worn down buildings, industrial containers, water towers and storage receptacles provide the subject matter for the artist. The work references the play between this architecture’s original function and its current empty form. Many pieces feature animals perched on top of the sculptures, reclaiming these spaces.

Most sculptures sit on miniature wooden flats or boxes and for some of the pieces the artist has also created metal stands that reference electrical towers and provide an array of interesting shadows in the gallery. These details along with the use of materials such as salt, soda, wood, and steel, all underline the artist’s interest in everyday materials and add to the work’s industrial weathered appearance.

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Slew, one of Pancoe’s two wall mounted pieces, consists of a rusty looking vessel attached to the wall on a wooden frame. At the bottom of the vessel there is a brass tap, and below that there is a miniature constructed landscape. The viewer can imagine that a drip from the tap has created this tiny ecosystem below. This play between life and decay is a constant throughout the exhibition.

According to the Oxford dictionary, a track is defined as a rough path or road, typically one beaten by use rather than constructed. This definition connects with Pancoe’s work, seemingly something that comes out of the everyday, created with ordinary materials and inspired by his surroundings, not appearing to be forced or have a heavy hand. His work inspires the viewer to examine the beauty and decay, as well as the beauty in decay in their own surroundings.



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Category Archives: Blog


Flashback Friday:: Claudia Bergen Ceramic Artist

For this Flashback Friday we will be looking at an artist who was an important part of the Manitoba Craft Council and the Manitoba ceramics community, the late Claudia Bergen who left us on October 29, 2012. Claudia was a long-time member who served as a member of the MCC board as well as acted as president of the board.

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Claudia was a passionate artist who thrived in experimenting with her chosen medium. Manitoba Craft Council board member Grace Nickel, who new Claudia for over 30 years, recalls how “Claudia had every Ceramics Monthly ever published and took everyone apart and catalogued every article according to her indexing system. She kept this in the trunk of her car for an ever-ready resource”.

A large part of her practice focused on the ancient Japanese firing technique of Raku. She exhibited her geometrical handbuilt works in numerous group and solo shows including some at the former Manitoba craft Council Gallery. She reveled in meticulously researching her palette of glazes and firing temperatures for her Raku vessels. Her work was mentioned in two of Robin Hopper’s hugely popular ceramics books, Making Marks:Discovering the Ceramics Surface as well as Ceramic Spectrum: Second Edition.

claudia bergen invitation

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Since Claudia graduated from the University of Manitoba ceramics program in 1974, she set out to share what she learned by helping to introduce ceramics to the wider communities of Winnipeg.  She was integral in the early development of most of the ceramic programs in community centres when she worked for the City of Winnipeg Parks and Recreation department. She later returned to school to pursue a teaching degree which she received in 1991 becoming a special needs teacher at the Gordon Bell High School in Winnipeg where she taught until the time of her death.

Claudia Bergen personified the ideal artist and educator who shared the results of her own never-ending curiosity with the artists she encountered, ensuring that her passion for ceramics lives on through them.




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Category Archives: Blog


Flashback Fridays :: Elaine Rounds

For this Friday’s Flashback the archive files have revealed fibre artist Elaine Rounds, a dedicated and highly trained weaver who began weaving professionally in 1978. She has traveled to world seeking out courses and workshops to hone her skills and all that study has led to a beautiful body of work.

elaine rounds  1 Elaine exhibited her lovely floral tapestries in a solo show  at the Manitoba Crafts Council Exhibition Gallery in 1996.

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Rounds main subject matter is mainly floral as well as taking inspiration the memories of landscapes. The tapestries is this show were created using the Swedish inlay technique which she describes as “weaving the canvas while, painting the design” on her favorite fabric, linen. It is a complex technique that results in beautifully nuanced works that speak to the colour and opulence of flowers. The artist believes that “the negative spaces in her works are important to emphasize the simplicity” of her work.

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Rounds, who currently resides in Brandon, has shown extensively, is collected widely and continues to explore what her chosen medium has to offer.  You a can see an example of newer work online. One example of these works which now seem to include mixed media elements can be found on the website Textile Mail Art Gallery.

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