Pottery productivity prominent for Chemainus arts society president

Arts centre the dream for downtown being vigourously explored

Peggy Grigor is a visionary through her pottery work and as president of the Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society.

Grigor creates wonderful pieces at her Olsen Road studio in Saltair, Pottery by Peggy. Her repertoire includes art for the garden as well as functional table and cookware.

Grigor utilizes dramatic crystalline glazes on items that can be seen and purchased at her studio in addition to the Rainforest Arts Gallery in downtown Chemainus where she works 2 1/2 days a week and also does administrative duties.

She’s remained heavily involved in the arts scene within the community and her two-year term as CVCAS president concludes at the end of January.

“I’m not going away,” she noted. “I’m just not going to be the president.”

The biggest project is spearheading the committee to bring an arts centre to town.

“We’re developing a business plan to present to the Municipality,” said Grigor. “We’re building up a powerful team who knows how to do this sort of thing.”

The Society has its eye on the former Chemainus Foods location on Willow Street for the centre. It will take time to do the fundraising to potentially purchase the building from Anthem Properties.

“We have to get the artists recognized,” Grigor conceded. “We’ve got so many artists.”

The primary motivation, she added, is “we need to get it back to where it was and be a destination for arts.”

The site brings a natural tie-in with the business community and Rainforest Arts Gallery, owned and operated by the CVCAS and staffed by volunteers.

Grigor was born in Toronto and lived all over Southwestern Ontario in various cities, including Kingston and London. Her wanderlust only intensified after getting married and she lived with her husband in different parts of Ontario, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan.

Grigor first started working professionally in clay during her time in Richmond Hill, Ont.

“I joined a potter’s guild there,” she explained. “You learned the ropes by being part of the team.”

Grigor worked in various secretarial positions over the years and as a clinical psychotherapist. She came to Saltair in 2005 and became a full-time potter.

Husband Brad is a graphic designer, with the creation of the Chemainus dollars among his claims to fame, and both have studio space within their home to do their work.

Having been here 12 years now, “I get a lot of repeat customers,” Grigor noted.

Galleries in Cowichan Bay, Tofino, Nanaimo and home base at Rainforest Arts also carry her pottery.

Many changes have occurred over the years in the pottery business, particularly in one area.

“Now, the sky’s the limit for colours,” Grigor pointed out.

“The materials are more manufactured than harvested from the ground so they’re pure and you can get better finishes, for sure.

“The basic techniques and firing haven’t changed at all. But the looks and the finishes and the durability has certainly changed throughout my career.”

Grigor does all sorts of custom orders as well at her studio, even such things as urns.

“Clay is probably the most versatile material out there,” she said. “There’s probably nothing you can’t make in clay if you have enough patience.

“I’ve never gotten tired of clay. There’s always something new to try.”

It’s still a lot about trial and error and experimenting. Grigor has utilized crystalline glazes with striking results.

“You can’t predict where the crystals will be,” she explained. “Not a lot of potters do it.”

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