By N. LEONARD SEGALL
Courtesy First Friday magazine
“Earth, Fire and Water” is a retrospective exhibition of pottery by the late Dave Dunk – earth exposed to fire in the kiln becomes pottery – together with recent water based media paintings by his friends Mary Abma and Pam Turner-Wong, opening First Friday at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts.
Dave began as a potter taking night classes at Lambton College in the 1970s while still working as a chemical technologist at the Lambton Generating Station. Dave’s pottery was a constant exploration. He would work on pieces in series: developing a shape, a concept, a glaze. His ideas could never be contained in one category, and he would draw from all realms of pottery technique: throwing on the wheel, sculpting, making slabs, coils, balls and hand building.
He would meld these techniques, pursuing his vision until it crystallized to his satisfaction. Once he achieved his goal, he would then start on a new series. Each series is made up of a progression of uniquely individual but related pieces; each piece perfect in its own way. Only Dave knew when the culmination had been reached and it was time to move on.
Dave never stopped learning, attending workshops given by visiting potters in Sarnia, and travelling to Kingston, Winnipeg and Tennessee to continue his studies. Dave also never stopped teaching: he shared everything he knew. He worked as the pottery studio technician at Lambton College repairing the wheels and firing the kilns, and later taught in the pottery program. He also taught school students through Gallery Lambton and the Gallery in the Grove Visiting Artists in the Local Schools program. Dave was also a tireless volunteer at the Theatre Sarnia, participating in the restoration of the Imperial Theatre and building sets for the productions.
Early on Dave joined the Sarnia Artists’ Workshop and showed his work in their annual Art at the Bay exhibition and sale, later participating in exhibitions at Gallery Lambton, The Gallery in the Grove, The Lawrence House, The Guild Shows, and the Sarnia-Lambton Fall Studio Tour.
Mary Abma and Pam-Turner Wong are both active artists who live in Sarnia. They met as members of the Sarnia Artists’ Workshop where, together they started an evening painting group for members with day jobs. Then they met Dave at one of the Art at the Lake Exhibitions.
They all became fast friends, together with Dave’s wife Jean, a textile artist, and grew together as friends and artists. Dave, Pam and Mary joined the Guild and participated in many exhibitions in Sarnia the 1990s. Pam will be exhibiting with the Art Assembly, an evolution of The Guild, in An Event Apart in November at DeGroot’s. Pam has also been a long-time volunteer with the Sarnia-Lambton Arts Council, the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts, the Lawton Gallery and Theatre Sarnia. Pam and Dave would work together on sets for the theatre productions: Dave building and Pam painting.
Mary has had many solo and group exhibitions, notably her solo shows “If Remembered” in 2003 and “Peregreiatio” in 2008 at Gallery Lambton. Mary Abma, now a full-time artist, is featured in the current exhibition of her photograms and recent multi-media work “Our Own Back Yard” at the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery.
Completing the close ties that bind this exhibition, Composer/Arranger Cy Giacomin, Mary’s son-in-law, will be performing piano music on First Friday. Cy, a native of Halifax, studied music at Dalhousie and McGill before moving to Sarnia, where he is artistic director of the Bluewater Chamber Choir, music director and organist at Saint Benedict’s Church, and accompanist for the Sarnia Christian School Choir. Nationally, Cy performs with the Canadian Chamber Choir. Cy recently gave a very well received concert in the Lawrence House Friday Afternoon Concert Series.
“Earth, Fire and Water” opens at the Lawrence House on First Friday, October 3, 6:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. and runs until November 1. This exhibition gives everyone the opportunity to see the work of these three talented artists and share in the fruits of their artistic friendship.