by Andrea Maitland
Aberthau Potters Club is celebrating its 40th anniversary as a collective of passionate amateur ceramicists on the west side of Vancouver. It’s been 40 years of potting, community, co-operation and the occasional squabble in the old coach house beside the Aberthau Mansion – part of the West Point Grey Community Centre.
One of the founding members, Maria G. Tomsich, is still active in the club. There is always a long waiting list for the 60 memberships, but it is not any kind of exclusive experience. The coach house and its community spirit are shared with students who enroll in WPG centre pottery programs. Students and members learn from each other and students often go on to join the club. (Full disclosure: I have been a member of the club for more than 10 years. The warmth of potters and the challenge of acquiring new skills cushioned the shock of retirement.)
Club president Fran Safarik says the club is special because of the camaraderie and team atmosphere and the opportunities to learn. “I think people teach each other. The workshops that we have that people can attend to improve their skills,” she said. Safarik wants to bring knowledge of pottery to the greater public. In England, there is a widespread respect for crafts, she says, “People grow up with that. Everybody has pots in their houses. ”She has been organizing displays in banks and at a local theatre group, trying to teach the public that a hand-crafted piece is much better than something factory-made. Though the club operated informally for a while before, the first sale was Nov. 19, 1974.
Currently the club holds two sales a year. The next one is Saturday, May 2, in the Aberthau Mansion at 4397 West 2nd Ave. in Vancouver, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.