Entries Tagged as 'Interview'

Mud + Stone

Oct 8, 2015

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The day is warm and humid with an overcast glare of cool grey light. Lynne waits to greet me on the steps of her quaint two-story north Winnipeg home. I walk up the crisply detailed wood and steel stairway (which Lynne designed and had custom fabricated) and into the warm oaky glow of the main floor.  As one half of the ceramics duo Mud + Stone, Lynne literally takes her work home with her. The cozy living room space of her house has comfortable furniture and minimal accents, yet also doubles as a pottery showroom with tidy white industrial shelves displaying rows of the elegant and pragmatic pieces that Mud + Stone have gained attention for. Production takes place in the dining room, where a potter’s wheel and tools sit ready, and the electric kiln used to fire all their work is downstairs. The other half of the partnership, Jen, arrives at the house a few minutes later, along with her months old baby Bo, sleeping soundly in a carrier. Lynne brings me strong coffee in wide black Mud + Stone mug as I browse around the space. I’ve been looking forward to visiting this pair of makers since first handling some of the pieces they graciously provided EQ3 for our Fall-Winter 2015/16 catalog shoot. Mud + Stone ceramics fuse a modern industrial design aesthetic with a charming handmade execution. The crisp clean lines and generous form of the coffee mug Lynne brought me are embellished with an ergonomic thumb-dented side and a simple oversized handle. It’s finished in a striking matte black glaze, one of many they’ve developed themselves. A really nice example of design and craft together.


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While the pair has only been working professionally as Mud + Stone for about a year and a half, their partnership solidified quickly, and they wasted no time establishing their presence. Besides selling ceramics from their home studio and their Etsy site, they are also stocked in a variety of keen independent shops around Winnipeg, and as far away as Ontario. Their work is used for service at Winnipeg fine dining establishments Deer & Almond and Sydney’s at the forks and has been featured in various culinary magazines, the Globe and Mail, and on the Food Network. Mud + Stone have built a niche for themselves making sleek design-savy objects with a humble approach. Lynne and Jen are responsible for the entire process, including collaborating on everything from concept, to throwing, finishing, and distribution. The results are straight forwardly pragmatic pieces, fused with subtle craftsmanship and ergonomic awareness, void of any sort of preciousness. Soon Lynne is holding little Bo so that Jen can demonstrate her skills on the wheel, deftly turning three nice bowls from lumps while I watch. It’s practical and pastoral at the same- creating craft objects and caring for family in an intimate residential setting. After Jen finishes at the wheel and sets the bowls to dry, we spend some more time drinking coffee and chatting about craft, design and small business.


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BB: What is it about ceramics that draws you to the medium?


M+S: It’s a magical thing to be able to take a lump of clay and turn it into a completely different form that is an entirely new material (stone).  Additionally the process of being able to see an idea through, start to finish and have a hand in each and every step is extremely rewarding.


BB: Do you each bring different skills and strengths to the partnership?


M+S: As individuals we have skill sets that compliment one another- Jenn has a background as a silversmith, is amazing with details, brings discipline with the cash, and is a perfectionist when it comes to throwing.  She also is incredible with sales and is way more social which is critical in getting us out of our studios and into stores.  Lynne has a background in design and architecture and she brings that skill set to the wheel. She deals with our graphics, branding, and merchandising. It’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off of, to further expand your ideas and to help refine concepts with.  Pottery can be an extremely isolating medium when it’s just you and the wheel. Even through we have our own studios we are in constant communication thought the day, sending each other pics of what we are making and sharing ideas.


BB: The bird feeders are great, can you talk about the creation of this series?


M+S: Thanks! The feeders actually were one of the first things that we started making as Mud + Stone.  The idea stemmed back a couple of years to when we were students and wanted to learn how to make closed forms. We had seen feeders made out of plastic and figured it’d be fun to make them in ceramic.  It is an ever evolving series, as each one can have a unique form- the possibilities for restyling is limitless and we are working towards a few new styles for fall.


BB: You mention on your website the importance of producing long lasting functional objects. Are you ever tempted to make ceramic sculpture that has no practical function? Why pursue functionality?


M+S: We are both pretty minimalist, generally speaking, and don’t have much in the way of stuff that has no purpose in our homes.  So we tend to prefer functional pottery. When you are making something that you know will outlast you (and generations to come), it makes it that much more important for it to be useful and not end up as a throw away object.   We can’t say that we will never make things without clear purpose, but we really  love the aspect of creating objects that are meant to be used and abused everyday, not those that collect dust and people are afraid to touch.


BB: You also make it clear that you cannot compete with the price of products made overseas, and you invite people into you studio to check out your process. Do you feel like you often have to educate people about the inherent value and time you’ve invested, or defend your prices?


M+S: The average piece of pottery is handled by the person making it between 15-25 times.  Quite often people will see pottery being thrown (the movie ghost is referenced by nearly everyone as the only pottery process they know which is funny) and think that it’s finished. It’s more about sharing the process than defending our prices. We hope that our products will stand out as being worth what we are asking and have had less and less of an issue with this since the initial loaf of bread for a mug trade.


BB: Do you have contemporary and/or historic influences?


M+S: It’s hard to pinpoint specific influences. Lynne’s background in design means a draw to industrial/furniture designers ( Eileen Gray and Eames have always been faves). Lately it seems that what’s informing our work is the exploration of materials ( metal, wood, leather etc) as they relate to ceramics. We are playing with how they can be used to create new functional ceramic works. Current contemporary faves are @raffeallaceramics and @sarahpikepottery and we seem to have a similar aesthetic and vibe to a quite few Australian ceramists which has been fun to discover. We tend to look outside of the ceramic world for inspiration.


BB: What is the ceramic community like in Winnipeg?


M+S: There is definitely a strong ceramic community in the city. We see a lot of potters encouraging and supporting each other in their work.


BB: Your pieces are used at local fine dining restaurants. How does food and drink influence your practice?


M+S: Collaborating with some top shelf chefs has been such an amazing creative challenge for us. Making restaurant ware adds another layer onto the design challenge. It’s one thing to make a beautiful plate, it’s a different task entirely to make a plate that looks as good with food on it as it does when the dish had been eaten.  We meet with the chefs to determine some of the dishes they are working on for the plate or bowl and then work backwards from there.  We know how they intend to use it and are always blown away by how what we do can inform how the plate is used. There is somewhat of a cycle- their work informs our ceramics and then our work informs their plating.   It’s so amazing and keeps us fresh and creatively challenged.  We are also always thinking of the end user- lip feel, how the item sounds when you cut on it, how a mug rests in your hand when you hold it a variety of ways.  We have had feedback from servers that people will clear the plate then pick it up and look at it.  It’s delightful to know that we have done our job in creating something durable, functional and beautiful.


BB: Thanks for everything Mud + Stone, we are so pleased to have your work in our Fall-Winter 2015/16 catalog!

Kenneth Lavallee

Jun 2, 2015

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I first became aware of Winnipeg artist Kenneth Lavallee through seeing his prints displayed at Parlour Coffee on Main street a few years ago. Featuring a pair of half-human half-owl figures that seemed to dance or commiserate with one another, the work was executed in a folksy yet elegant style that drew me in. Since then, I’ve become more familiar with Lavallee’s ouvre, admiring the sweet draftsmanship of his line and the richly harmonic colour palette that he bathes his paintings, murals, prints and graphic design work in. Though he always seems relaxed and at ease, he’s been busy with commissions since having a solo exhibition at the Kelowna Art Gallery in April of 2014. As of late, he has captured the imagination of Winnipeggers with his proposal to enrobe an entire run down building on north Main Street in a bold star blanket-like mural. I visited Lavallee at his studio in Winnipeg’s Exchange District recently, and had a chance to talk with him about his approach to art and catch a glimpse of his new work in progress.


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BB: What makes you a good painter?


KL: I don’t know if I am a good painter, but I have ideas as an artist that are best done through painting. Like this latest Main Street idea, I’ve always been dreaming and envisioning things that could be, you know, I want my city to shine and look good. I don’t know if I could trust someone else to do it, so I’ve just got to figure things out and do it trial by fire. I think that’s what I’ve been doing the last little while as an artist.


BB: How do know when a painting is working then? How do you judge it?


KL: I’ve had these canvases for a month now, they’re all primed up. This is my favorite part of the creative process, this blank slate, picturing all these different possibilities. But then, there comes a point where just you have to put the brush to it, you know, time to go. Once I start making marks it feels good, and something happens. Making decisions and having to just go with it, and trust yourself. But the thing is, I’ve found that if I stop and take a break from it, maybe come back to it a week later, some of the magic can be gone. You’ve got to keep on it sometimes. I’ve had some past work that just kind of dragged on, became like a chore almost. The spark was gone. But, then sometimes if you sit on it and leave for a while, a month or two months, that spark can come back! I’m looking at some of these ones over here and I’m not over them yet, but I’m not ready to go back. There’s still something there.


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BB: Do you like working on multiple pieces at the same time?


KL: Yes! That’s the best part about a studio. That’s all I wanted. Before this I just worked in my bedroom, on one piece at a time start to finish. It’s hard to develop that way I think, just one thing at a time. To have the space and lay everything out, and see so much at once is good. I want to build up a body of work rather than working with commissions and one-offs. It’s much more exciting and fun to work on things where you don’t know where they’re going, and work on a bunch of things at once.


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BB: Is it important for you to show in galleries; is it part of your strategy?


KL: The Kelowna thing (his solo exhibition “Man and Nature” at the Kelowna Art Gallery in 2014, curated by Jenny Western), that was cool, super important for sure. But I haven’t had too much luck with galleries. That was a big break. Every other gallery I’ve shown at has been a friend’s vacant warehouse, just some walls. And just friends would come over, not really clientele. But, I want to have another show this summer, and I think I’ll just do it here, just clear it out you know? I have a gallery here! It’s nice to get those legit gallery fees though! I’ll have my retrospective at the WAG, but just keep hustling on Selkirk and Main street.



The Bush, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 72 in. (121.9 x 182.8 cm) Featured in the Lavallee’s exhibition at the Kelowna Art Gallery in 2014.


BB: You’ve done murals and paintings on buildings. Is there some relationship between painting and architecture that you’re interested in?


KL: Downtown Winnipeg is funny, you know, it’s been compared to a mouth with a bunch of teeth missing, right? All these things we’ve torn down and we’re left with these giant, beautiful blank canvases that are just begging for something! Who wants to stare at a giant wall of just dirty bricks? They get the most beautiful sunlight and we could add so much! I’m just trying to work around Winnipeg, fill in the cracks. I’ll walk around for three hours some days like, I want that wall, and that wall, and that wall… I have plans for sure. But, I don’t want to paint on historical heritage buildings. It started with Deer & Almond, with a crumby cinderblock wall. I was like, let me just throw some paint up there! Even that was tough though, with the owner, who thought it was good as is.



Solar System (2013) Outdoor mural commissioned by deer + almond restaurant for Nuit Blanche 2013.


BB: People are hesitant?


KL: So hesitant! In the exchange anyway, they want to preserve it for the film industry. But, you can’t live in the past, a hundred years ago, forever. There comes a point where you have to move on, life is for the living! A hundred years ago they used to paint on the walls, now we’re just watching it crumble. Why can’t we just keep painting on the walls and have it for another hundred years?


BB: Hard edge and colour seem to be major aspects of your style, is that accurate? What other elements inform your work?


KL: Hard edge and colour are pretty accurate. I think right after high school my goal for post secondary was to study graphic design. I’ve always loved good design, good clean design. I think my favorite book is that Book of American Trademarks. It’s a bunch of super clean logos, so beautiful you know, black and white. I’ve always had a huge interest in well-designed things. I learned Photoshop at a young age, I designed my own websites…


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BB: So a big part of painting for you is the design?


KL: Oh for sure, and murals, designing a cityscape. I got called out a lot in art school for my paintings. During crits not much would be said, or that the paintings just looked like graphic design. They’d dismiss it as just graphic design, or something lesser. Maybe they’re right, I don’t know.


BB: What are the challenges of working as a full time painter? It’s a pretty romantic job but what are the…


KL: The realities? Uh, having no money ever! Sacrificing all fun, going out, eating out, even paying rent. Not everyone could do it I don’t think. And it’s like, what am I doing? There is a lot of doubt when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, but when you’re at your lowest good gigs come, or something sells. So, it’s a rocky road, but I know I’m going to a good place. You’ve got to do your time. I’ve got this beautiful view of all these old buildings, this nice roof top where I can sketch in the sun at the foot of the TD building where everyone’s in suits, and board meetings. I like that! That is super romantic. I’m a millionaire for how happy and content I am with my days, I’m my own boss. I get to explore my brain and my skill and people respond well so it’s nice.


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BB: How is your style evolving? What connects your new body of work?


KL: I can for sure see the journey. Ever since the Kelowna show, I’ve had to think about why or what I make art about and what am I doing. And I’ve realized that a lot of it has to do with just where I am, my environment. So I’m still painting these plants in my bedroom, or the flowers at Natalie’s place, just things I see. It’s all still a journal of my life right now, snapshots. It’s all I know.


5 Questions with Evin Collis

Jan 30, 2015

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Evin Collis was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He graduated from the Ontario College of Art & Design in 2010 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting and then returned to Winnipeg and began working as a porter for VIA Rail on the ‘Canadian’ for a number of years. His work has been exhibited across Canada and Italy. Drawing, oil painting, sculpture, comics and stop-motion animation are the mediums he uses to realize his work. Evin currently lives in Chicago where he is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Red River Pieta, 8' x 11', 2013, oil on canvas. Photographed by Charles Venzon.

Red River Pieta, 8′ x 11′, 2013, oil on canvas. Photographed by Charles Venzon.


NQ: Your work is currently showing at La Maison des Artistes here in Winnipeg. Do you feel that there is one piece which sums up your intentions for the exhibition?


EC: I would say that the two largest paintings Red River Pieta (La pieta de la rivière rouge) and Assiniboine Odyssey, which are satirical contemporary Manitoba history paintings that were completed earlier in 2012 and 2013 really stimulated this body of work at La Maison des artistes.

Homestead Pile. 5' x 5', 2014, oil on canvas. Photographed by Charles Venzon.

Homestead Pile. 5′ x 5′, 2014, oil on canvas. Photographed by Charles Venzon.


NQ: Which medium do you feel most successfully conveys your artistry?


EC: Most of my time is spent painting and drawing. The sculptures I had created for the show were born out of the paintings. The animations I have done in the past are closely related to painting and drawing as well. As much as I love experimenting and toying with other medias, I am informed through painting and drawing.


Hydra-Goose, 2015, plaster, wood, metal, epoxy, paint, leather, feathers. Photographed by Charles Venzon.

Hydra-Goose, 2015, plaster, wood, metal, epoxy, paint, leather, feathers. Photographed by Charles Venzon.


NQ: How do you determine what your next project will be?


EC: Whatever interests me at the moment; often one project can lead into the next. I draw from a wide array of influences and source material. Sometimes I desire to try something very different. There is no exact formula.


Assiniboine Odyssey. 2010, 8' x 10', Oil and fur on canvas. Photographed by Charles Venzon.

Assiniboine Odyssey. 2010, 8′ x 10′, Oil and fur on canvas. Photographed by Charles Venzon.


NQ: How would you describe your home? Studio?


EC: At the moment I spend most of my time in the studio which is inside the school, near the top floor of a very tall building. There is a common area around the corner from my space that has an incredible open view of Lake Michigan, I think you can even see Indiana from up there. The studio is practically home and I have multiple projects consistently on the go.


Commerce, Prudence, Industry Collage. 2015, photographed by Charles Venzon.

Commerce, Prudence, Industry Collage. 2015, photographed by Charles Venzon.


NQ: What makes you most excited to wake up and do what you do everyday?


EC: To keep making, to continue learning and striving to become a better painter.

Our Hands – Marcy

Dec 22, 2014

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5 Questions with Marcy our Team Leader Seamstress


Charles – How long have you been a seamstress?

Marcy – 24 years.

C – What do your hands do all day?

M – They distribute work + organize.

C – What makes your hands unique?

M – They are ambidextrous.

C – Would you change anything about your hands? If so what?

M – My right hand is a bit crooked (she laughs). Perhaps I would have it straightened (she smiles).

C – What is your favourite thing to hold? 

M – I can’t help it but when I am going down the grocery isle where marshmallows can be found, I need to press on them! A marshmallow is my favourite thing to hold.


5 Questions with Edholm Ullenius

Dec 8, 2014

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Sissi Edholm and Lisa Ullenius are the women behind Edholm Ullenius, a Stockholm based studio of graphic design and illustration. Since 2002, Edholm Ullenius has worked with a wide range of clients and produced an exciting body of work including our Kayak dishes and napkins. They most recently took on the task of designing a line of mid-century inspired prints. The end result was a fun, cohesive collection with striking line work and bold colour blocking. The prints were carved into blocks which were then hand stamped directly onto recycled paper.


The Avenue collection is designed to fit perfectly within the new Edge Picture Frames. Working with Edholm Ullenius has always been a pleasure. We are super excited about the official launch of artwork at EQ3 to help complete your beautiful spaces! You can now find them in-stores or online here.

Lisa Ullenius + Sissi Edholm of Edholm Ullenius


Nina Quark: What was the defining point where you each knew you wanted to pursue design as a career?


Edholm Ullenius: It´s a feeling we both had since we were very young. Around the time we were graduating high school we both realized we actually could do this for a living, that was an amazing insight and we started planning how we best could make it happen. The way to where we are today has been long and winding, but we wouldn´t like to miss out on any of those experiences.

AVENUE Print 1- 5" x 7"

NQ: At which stage of a project are you most excited?


EU: At the beginning and at the end. At the middle we usually get the feeling of having no clue what we are doing. It´s a rollercoaster ride which hopefully ends with the feeling of pushing ourselves to a new creative level. We love the saying: “Always give the client what they need, not always what they think they want”.

AVENUE Print 2-  5" x 7"

NQ: Which method, or medium, do you find best portrays what you’re trying to communicate?


EU: We are very grateful that we get the chance to work with many different materials and products. All though we must say that textile is our favourite choice. The textile texture adds an extra touch and the possibilities to create what you want are endless.

AVENUE Print 1- 8" x 10"

NQ:  What was your inspiration behind the Avenue Block Prints?


EU: The inspiration came from the naive style of mid-century design (1950/1960s). It´s also the result of letting your imagination run free and creating something abstract, yet with a character.

AVENUE Print 2-  8" x 10"

NQ: In the future, what is one project that you would love to take on – individual or duo?


EU: We would love to collaborate with architects and scale up our designs, as placed on the front of a house for example. We are both fascinated by science and must however say that our dream client is NASA.

AVENUE Print 11" x 14"

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