In the late 1940’s a small group of home potters were looking for a place with qualified instructors, better equipment and more space. They wanted to improve their standard of ceramic work and have the opportunity to exhibit their work in Edmonton. Their quest led them to the Edmonton Public School Board and Victoria Composite High School which had recently built a new ceramics room in the school. In 1951, the room became operational. A ceramics teacher and a loan provided by the Canadian Handicraft Guild. Equipment and tools were purchased for high school students and a class of 20 adults. The following year, however, the high school program was cancelled due to the School Board’s inability to acquire a qualified teacher, as well as a lack of interest from the students.
The adult students, however, were determined to continue and succeeded in leasing the Ceramics Room from the Edmonton Public School Board and the Edmonton Potters’ Guild was formed in December of 1952. The organization of classes and the operation of the ceramic workshop became the sole responsibility of the Guild. Equipment has expanded many times since then to accommodate an increasing membership. For many years, the Guild produced low-fire earthenware. Following the acquisition of a gas kiln and an array of suitable high fire glazes, we now produce only high fired stoneware. On very short notice in 1983, the Guild was forced to vacate the premises during a major expansion of Victoria Composite High School. All equipment, cupboards, glazes, clay, along with everything else that had been accumulating for over 25 years, was removed and with a grant from Alberta Culture, was reassembled in October 1983.
With 84 members, the Edmonton Potters’ Guild is one of the largest group of independent potters in North America. Over 1,000 potters have been trained in this institution and these artisans are now contributing to a flourishing creative activity provincially, nationally and internationally. A few of the well known Alberta potters who have participated in Guild activities in the past, include:
Jane Van Alderwegen
On October 3rd, 2020, after having the basement of the historic wing of Victoria School for the Arts as our crowded, but comfy, home for 68 years, we have vacated our studio and moved everything into storage until a new space is found. This decision caused multiple mixed feelings for our 84 members, but we are very excited for the new opportunities that will be open to us by virtue of a new, larger space that has natural light and is at ground level. We now bid Victoria School a fond farewell, and look forward to our bright future.