When ArtsBC announced its Community Arts Champions for 2011, nobody was more surprised than Diane Ferguson.
The award was only given out to three people – for their contributions to the development and promotion of the arts in their communities – and Ferguson was one of the winners.
“Actually, I was quite shocked,” she said.
The local Raku potter has been a member of the Hope Artist’s Guild for 15 years.
In 2005, she became a founding member of the Hope and District Arts Council through which she developed the community arts program, The Art Machine. Now the office administrator for the local arts council, Ferguson has volunteered countless hours to help organize and participate in events such as Arts and Culture Week, WinterFest and Concerts in the Park.
When the award announcement was made at a banquet held last month, Ferguson thought they were talking about someone else.
“I heard them say it was a Raku potter and I thought to myself ‘another Raku potter! I wonder who it is, I’d like to meet them.’”
But once she realized they were talking about her, a different emotion hit.
“I was very pleased … it was most appreciated.”
A long-time resident of Hope, she came here in 1974, Ferguson has always been involved with the arts.
In high school she tried her hand at many art forms, painting, fabric art, but pottery was her favourite, especially Raku, which originated in Japan about 400 years ago.
Living in this area has helped give Ferguson the opportunity to pursue her passion.
“Hope is a very artsy community. There are a lot of artists and a lot of people who enjoy art.”
And she enjoys working to promote the growing arts scene.
“It’s the only job I’ve ever had that when I wake up in the morning I don’t go ‘Eww, I don’t want to go to work.’”
Raku, which means enjoyment, pleasure contentment and happiness, is made using grogged (pre-fired and ground up) clays. Hand or wheel made, the pieces are fired in an electric kiln. Then, any number of glazes are applied. After it dries, the pieces are put on or around the hot kiln to warm up. Then they go back in the kiln until the glaze melts
The red-hot pieces are placed in a metal container filled with sawdust, paper and/or leaves, which catch on fire. The lid is placed on the container. A chemical reaction takes place, giving the pieces a metallic colour. Any parts of the piece that did not have glaze on it turns black.
The process creates a unique piece.