Region’s ‘best-kept secret’
In today’s digitally driven world there is at least one group of people taking it back to the basics: potters.
“Technology is overwhelming what it means to be human,” said Arrowsmith Potters’ Guild member Margot Gibson, putting the finishing glaze on her latest creation — an argyle vase which she will soon fire into one of the four kilns in the back room of the pottery studio.
“Is technology made for us or are we made for technology?” Gibson asks a room brimming with potters, but directs the question to no one in particular seemingly lost in painting her most recent work of art.
“This is just a really neat place to come, meet people and make pottery,” Gibson said.
The Arrowsmith Potters’ Guild uniquely resides in the old train station building along Alberni Highway — a location reflective of the common theme potters seem to hold about simplicity.
“It’s Parksville’s best kept secret,” said Liz Cameron, an avid member and instructor with the guild. “It’s pretty casual — members just drop in and use the facility and it’s a really welcoming community.”
Just as Cameron finishes her sentence, the back door opens and Al Bubnys walks in.
Bubnys is what he calls “a founding member” of the guild back in 1995 and luckily he serendipitously stumbled into the station to share the story of how the guild came to be.
“Well, it was 1995 and I was giving pottery classes out of the Heritage Centre,” recalled Bubnys, an art major who studied in Southern Colorado before relocating to Canada in an effort to dodge the draft during the Vietnam War.
“I guess I dodged the draft and came here to make pottery,” said Bubnys. “It’s something expressive and you learn it (pottery) by making mistakes.”
Bubnyz said one of his students — Les Crimp — finished his eight-week course and asked when the next set would be.
“I told him they wouldn’t be offered again until next year, and if he wanted to do more pottery maybe he should start a club,” said Bubnys. “The next thing I know, there’s an article in the local paper calling for interested potters to start a club.”
Bubnys said he couldn’t believe the response.
“We had maybe 25 or 30 potters come out,” he said. “There are a lot of potters in this area and a lot of interest.”
Bubnyz said a group of potters banned together and within the year they transformed the old train station into the Arrowsmith Potters’ Guild. And now, the old station hosts approximately 40 members and various students during the year. The shop is open to the public and carries many different lines of local pottery made by the members themselves. The shop is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m.-4 p.m.
Additionally, Arrowsmith Potters’ Guild offers various different classes for all skill types. For more information stop by Arrowsmith Potters’ Guild at 600 Alberni Highway, call 250-954-1872 or visit www.arrowsmithpottersguild.bc.ca.