Be beautiful, be useful: Meg Gallup’s functional stoneware
There is a famous William Morris quote that makes me think of Meg Gallup’s pottery:
If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
Featured on the “Shelves of Desire” (just try to resist) at the Mount Currie Coffee Co, Gallup’s stoneware combines both beauty and usefulness. Inspired by Chris Ankeny’s portraits of Meg at work this summer, we checked in with the potter to find out why stoneware should be functional and what it takes to become a master.
You define your work as ‘functional stoneware’? Why the emphasis on function?
A great deal of natural and human resources have been brought to the production of the materials with which I work. Its important to me that I carry that effort forward through my process to render pieces that people can use. I want to bring beauty, design and colour to those necessary items we need to use everyday in our homes.
What are your favourite pieces from your range?
Bowls have been my favorite form for many years and now, serving bowls specifically. They are the most basic primitive vessel and the most welcoming and transformative on today’s table. Recently I’m having fun with one of a kind vases and covered jars with curious handles and texture; still usable function.
What do you have the most demand for?
My one of a kind tall-big-handled mugs are extremely popular as are the larger unique bowls and vases now.
What is your signature? How can someone identify a Meg Gallup?
All my work is signed on the bottom with Gallup, upper case, many pieces also have Pemberton, BC Canada. Yes, very proud to be here.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Inspiration comes first from the medium itself: clay, glazes and most important the art of firing a kiln without gages. The gas kiln is my most important tool with just a gas valve and pyrometric cones, (little fingers of earth materials that bend with heat) viewed through a peep hole. The effects rendered in the firing continues to draw me onward. My palette and designs have changed over the years but I have been mostly informed and guided by nature. More recently my imagination has turned to the spectacle in outer space and it is these images which influence some of my direction now.
When does a person become a master at their craft? How do you keep learning? Are you still experimenting?
A master can control, manipulate and render the materials to the mind’s eye of design. When this level of mastery happens depends on passion, curiosity, training and time to explore, experiment and practice. I’m a curious life time student who is merely scratching the surface of what these materials can do. It still intrigues and delights me, both the process and the results. Yes, experimenting, leaning, playing with ideas are still a part of my pottery endeavor.
How does living in Pemberton inform your work? Are there locally sourced ingredients?
Living in Pemberton has allowed me to develop as an artisan with freedom. Working on my own without the influence of others, surrounded by this beautiful geography for so many years has allowed my own imagination the freedom to play and create. There are no locally sourced ingredients, only locally inspired ideas.
Tell me about your new kiln? How is that changing or impacting your work?
My dear little 10 cubic ft. updraft gas fired kiln has been with me since 1976. Its been moved seven times since leaving the store up and down the Sea to Sky corridor and shows the wear of hundreds of firings. It takes a while for us to get in sync and settle into an understanding after each move but I’m still pleased with its endurance.
How long have you been in Pemberton? What brought you here?
I first came to Pemberton in 1979 looking for an affordable home (go ahead and laugh) after three years in Whistler living the ski life. Before that, I’d spent three years in Vancouver learning my craft post University of Calgary, BA. Living in the West End was fun but I was a mountain girl. l still love this area and what it offers us all.
What makes Pemberton a good place to base your business?
Pemberton has grown enormously with many cultural shifts; now a cross roads for tourism and healthy lifestyles, organic farming and adventure. Pemberton works for this business because the people who are drawn here for living or travel like the local organic feel that is reflected in hand crafted pottery.
Where is your stoneware available?
Presently the Mt. Currie Coffee Co. displays my mugs and ‘sleeves’. A wider variety of work can be seen in the Pemberton Museum Gift Shop between May & Sept. or by contacting me : email@example.com, 604-905-9311 . Local Pemberton Fairs and Arts Council Events help keep my production accessible.
All photographs by Chris Ankeny Photography.