“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
About the artist...
Sharon Reay has had a connection to clay from a very young age. Raised on a rural farm outside of Nanaimo, B.C, (on Vancouver Island) the youngest of six siblings, by age nine she was digging clay from the creek bed and forming gnomes for her Mother’s garden. The fact that they magically disappeared after the first good rain fall, did nothing to deter her, it only added to the intrigue with which she still views the material.
With parents who placed great value upon the gift of reading (Father’s nightly bedtime stories) and the belief that "busy hands are happy hands" (thus her mother's constant supply of creative materials), she seemed practically destined for some sort of career in the arts.
After majoring in art (including clay) throughout high school and attending the Vancouver School of Art upon graduation, Sharon embarked on a full time career of motherhood – raising 3 children at her home in Burnaby, with her husband Rod. It was during her second pregnancy that clay re-entered her life. During a family visit in Nanaimo, she was dragged along to her sister’s pottery class. By the end of the evening, several of those characters which had lain dormant in her head for decades (images planted there by her father’s nightly tales of dragons and fairies) had suddenly come to life in clay. And she was hooked.
What followed were ceramic classes at the Burnaby Arts Centre, beginning with the amazing Gail Carney, membership in the Burnaby Potters Guild and, subsequently, the building of her own studio. She spent the next decade creating work for sale in shops and galleries in the lower mainland, Washington State and the interior of BC. – the most notable of which was The Queensdale Gallery in North Vancouver, run by Muriel Olsen.
In 1989, Sharon was hired to teach classes in the community and at the BAC (which expanded to become the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in 1995). She instructed students from preschool through to adult until 1990, when she moved to the administrative side, as an assistant to the Adult Programmer. Somehow, for the next million years, she ended up as the ‘Adult Programmer’, followed by ‘Adult Visual/Ceramic Arts Programmer’ and finally the ‘Ceramic Arts Programmer’ for all ages. And throughout all this she has maintained her studio and managed to continue, stubbornly, to create.
Due to the fabulous staff she works with, the incredible Shadbolt instructors and the numerous local, national and international artists who have graced the studios at the Shadbolt Centre for the past 25+ years, Sharon has had the benefit of meeting and learning from some of the world’s top ceramic artists. For this she remains eternally grateful.
Sharon retired in 2017, in order to pursue her passion for clay. She was subsequently given the amazing opportunity of being the Ceramic Artist in Residence at Vancouver's Museum of Anthropology in 2019, which resulted in the Museum's purchase of two of the pieces which she created during her time there, which are now installed in the Koerner Collection, alongside the works which inspired them.
Now, with long-anticipated renovations to her studio complete, she is once again up to her elbows in clay and couldn't be happier.