Photos by Steve Smith, VisionFire Studios
On a snowy day with sub-zero temperatures and grey skies I had the opportunity to chat with Sara Bonnyman. It was everything the current conditions outside of the window were not… warm, sunny and full of spring promise.
An accomplished and renown artist, Sara’s pottery has always been a personal favourite. Her functional, form-filled art have been gifts to family, friends, and just about anyone I could think to gift it to! I now had the chance to speak with the maker of these beautiful pieces I have so lovingly given.
My curiosity always lies in the connections… between people and their craft, people and their environment. What is it? How does it shape your life? What can we learn from it? I always ask a lot of questions. Sara knew right away.
Just as a potters hands connects with their clay, Sara is just as connected to her environment. It’s a constant source of inspiration. You might even say her muse. Sara’s gardens are brimming with colour, texture and life. They are a physical reminder to take in the magic of it all. “Admittedly when people watch me throw pots,” she said, “there is a magic there as well.”
With humble beginnings (read: terrible subsoil), Sara built a series of boxes and filled them with the necessary materials. Starting with some old favourites that promised to survive, the boxes grew and gave a punch of colour, a beacon for those traveling down the road past the studio.
“The real reason (for the garden boxes) was to attract them into the studio” Sara said modestly. As if! I thought the beautiful pieces of work within were enough to get people through the door! But then we dove a bit deeper and I understood.
“People often stop, take a breath and look closely at the blooms. They walk around the gardens first before coming into the studio… it awakens a sense of colour and texture, a sense of calm.”
The gardens act as a primer. A filter. A precursor to what awaits inside.
Once through the doors people discover Sara sitting, connected to her craft, creating pieces that are reflective of the natural beauty they have just walked through.
That was the intention for those visiting the studio space but how did this inspiration translate to Sara?
“So… what do you see when you look out your window?” I asked. Solomon Seal was the immediate response (also a personal favourite of mine). But beyond that “Curves, calm, colour… detail. It’s hap-hazard but lovely” Looking out the window at the current conditions she said “its incredible that under all of that snow and ice, things survive…”
As we shift into spring, the wonderment of the season and the complexity and simplicity of the natural world swirls around the studio and transfers through Sara to her wheel. The magic of it all is simply beautiful.