Canadian potter Rickie Woods, of the Haliburton Highlands, Ontario Canada, has been creating pottery for more than a Quarter of a Century. She was already trying to make a living as a potter at the time of the launch of the Haliburton Highlands Studio Tour. The Tour is celebrating its 25th anniversary and Rickie reminisces about the changes that have occurred since it began.
Rickie was not only one of the first artists participating in the Studio Tour, she was a member of the 4 person committee that worked behind the scenes to create what is now a very successful, and much larger, tour. Over the 25 years 127 artists have participated in the tour — Rickie is one of 5 who have stayed with the tour for the full 25 years. She remembers the difficulty they had in getting artists to participate that first year. She says “We had to use a bit of coercion”. Now the tour’s reputation is so impressive that artists are even moving to the Haliburton Highlands in the hopes of being accepted as an artist on the tour. That first year there were about 200 people through each studio .. now there are 2000. Before the start of the tour it was impossible to make a living selling pottery just in Haliburton County. An artist had to travel to a variety of shows and sell pieces to galleries to have any chance at making a living. The studio tour is such a great advertising mechanism for her own private studio that she no longer needs to resort to these marketing processes. She also uses online mechanisms to advertise her products such as www.MadeInHaliburton.ca and Treasuresof.com
In celebration of the 25th anniversary there is an Exhibition at the Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre that opened May 5th and will continue to June 16th. Rickie elected to put a new item in her line of pottery into the Exhibition. It is a canoe that is formed using hand building techniques and clay slabs rather than a pottery wheel. She states that, “just like all new items in the line there were growing pains. I had to figure out the most efficient way to create this piece.” Creating decorative pieces, such as this canoe, is a bit of a diversion for Rickie who specializes in functional pottery. She was inspired by a long-time friend and former studio tour artist, Mary Wallis, to engage herself in something new and different. Her time with Mary got the creative juices flowing and this beautiful decorative canoe is the result. It truly celebrates the outdoor lifestyle of the Haliburton Highlands, Ontario, Canada in which she lives and works.