This Saturday TUCK STUDIO will be hosting an exhibition by ceramicist Darren Emenau of MNO Pottery. This new series of work titled Deg Tråg is inspired by the shapes of 18th and 19th century dough troughs from the New Brunswick Museum’s collection.
Stop by TUCK STUDIO for an opening reception from 2-4pm on Saturday, October 24th to see these new original works!
In anticipation of the event we decided to ask Darren a few questions about himself and his art practice. Check out his thoughtful responses below!
Tell us about your exhibition. What is it about? What inspired you?
After receiving a New Brunswick Creation grant for this project, I spent a few days taking lines from some of the historical wooden dough troughs with Museum curator Peter Larocque M.A. This was followed with the creation of plaster molds that gave me the ability to recreate the original forms out of clay. After glazing these forms, I realized that the original wooden forms held a stronger aesthetic pleasure for me.
Deviating from the original forms, I expanded the walls, altered the edges, and explored different surface treatments while trying to maintain the spirit of the original wooden form. This resulted in Deg Tråg (Dough Trough), an homage to Holland and Sweden, where some of the traditional wooden from originated.
What would you be if you weren’t a potter?
I would have chosen to be a wooden boat builder. The dedication and knowledge involved amazes me. I know a few builders, and there is still time for such a dream.
I’m sure that you have broken some of your own pottery, was there one occasion that was particularly catastrophic or disappointing?
There have been so many “catastrophic” moments that they become “just another day” for me. I’m usually disappointed when I make the blunder, but with a shake of the head , and occasional scream at the gods, I move on.
I did have one of those head slapping moments with this latest body of work. I returned from the city to my Creek studio after a few days and found that I had forgotten to return six full shelves of completed forms from the back deck to the studio – I had left them out in the sun to dry further.
The night before my return, there was a super downpour – resulting in mud puddles. It took me over an hour to clean up the sludge and more than a few days to get over the disappointment.
You have an adorable little girl named Lucy, if she had been a boy what would her name have been?
When Nora, my wife, was pregnant, we decided to keep the sex of the baby a surprise until birth. We thought of naming a boy Harry after my grandfather Harold who was a true inspiration. Lucy was born with a full shock of hair on her head. So had she been a boy, I think that Harry would have been scrapped and a new name chosen to avoid the jokes.
Do you have any secret talents that only a few people know about?
I am a master of the classic 1982 Atari arcade game Millipeade – as are my other three brothers. It was the fastest video game ever. We also had to master the art of begging for quarters.
Do you have a favourite place? What is it?
My favorite place is my family cottage on Ponhook Lake, NS. It has been the one true “constant” in my life.
It is a little bare-bones cottage that sits in a pine grove on the edge of a beautiful lake. When I am there, I spend my time with family and friends, walking in the woods, canoeing, and saucering on the back of our little rickety motorboat. Life is simple there and great memories with family and friends continue to be made each summer.
What are five things about you that people may not know?
One: I love back country skiing. I may do this with full avalanche gear and telemark skis down untamed mountains, or on classic wooden cross-country skis tumbling down banks. Throw in a snowstorm, and you have a happy trailblazer.
Two: I have restored a few wooden boats, and the satisfaction of floating on the water after hundreds of hours of restoration puts more than a smile on my face.
“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” – The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Three: Splitting wood by hand is my NB meditation. Time with a new family has decreased this process, but I use to split up to six cords of hard wood a year, spending a few hours each day with a maul. Neighbors would look at me perplexed when I refused their offer of a wood splitter.
I also fire my “wood kiln” with soft wood, which requires half of a cord of soft wood to be split into 1 inch wide by 1 foot lengths. I used to do this by hand while listening to Ideas on CBC radio – A great meditative workout.
Four: “Do what you can with what you have”. I used this motto in studio practice and life. I’ve restored a farmhouse from the 1800’s into a pottery shop, and used many reclaimed items for renovations on the Creek house. This love of problem solving, and making things is still ongoing. The process is just as important as the product.
Five: I have a private obsession with Donovan. A personal journey was launched the night I first heard this singer-song writer in 1985. His music embraces my childhood innocence, and reminds me to love the simplicity in every day life. I had to explain more than enough times that there is much more to this Hurdy Gurdy Man than “Mellow Yellow”.