Ashley’s career in clay began when she enrolled in a campus recreation class at Mount Royal College in 1993, but was put on hold in 1995 when she moved to Prince George, B.C. to finish her bachelor of science in wildlife biology. 2001 was the year that she finally returned to clay and became a student and eventually a teacher at Fairview Pottery Studios and she has beenmaking pots ever since.
Ashley’s education in clay has been self directed, and is constantly ongoing. Aside from reading everything she can get her hands on, scouring the internet for as much information as possible, and watching every throwing video on YouTube, Ashley has travelled all over the place to learn new techniques and to help develop the skills she already has. Ashley has travelled as far asIreland to salt fire with Marcus O’Mahoney, and has been to workshops as close to home as Red Deer and Medicine Hat and has had some amazing teachers along the way.
The majority of Ashley’s current body of work uses the sgraffito technique, but begins with the manipulation of the freshly thrown form to develop a ‘landscape’ from which she draws inspiration for the imagery that is subsequently carved onto the pot through a highly refined clay slip she makes that is painted onto the surface of the pot and then finally glazed in a clear glaze. More recently, Ashley has been developing a trio of glazes that reference historically high temperature, reduction fired glazes, but are actually fired in an electric kiln, to a lower temperature and in an oxidizing or neutral atmosphere. Instead of relying on the reducing atmosphere that can be achieved with a gas kiln, she is now using the chemistry within the glaze itself to develop locally reduced copper reds and celadon glazes, as well as a mid range tenmoku.
My inspiration comes from all aspects of my life, but for the most part, I make the work I do because I love the process. Clay is a very tactile medium and the connection between it and the maker is very intimate. Every piece is handled dozens, if not hundreds of times from start to finish, and it is my hope that the finished piece, once it leaves my hands, finds an equally close relationship with the owner. Functional art allows the user and the maker to have a connection that, in my opinion, is not possible with most other art forms. Not only do you look at the piece, but you physically connect with it, which is not generally acceptable or possible with most other media. This connection is also something that has been lost in the world of mass production and big box stores. Using a handmade piece of pottery, even a simple mug, invites the user in to the world of the maker. It slows you down and makes you take notice of the pot. The pot reveals itself to you every time you use it and by extension, the maker is made evident as well. No two pots are the same, even though they were made by the same hand and their mysteries will keep the user engaged through the use and the life of the pot. It is almost as if by using handmade pottery, a bit of ceremony and celebration is injected into even the most mundane activities. The simple act of drinking water out of a hand-crafted vessel becomes something special.