Handmade pottery is a relic of the primitive fire – our connection to the ancestral hearth and the kitchen table where hands are warmed, food is shared, and the essential stories are passed around. - Peter Hamilton, potter
Peter Hamilton began making pottery as a Canadian teenager living in England for a year in the 70s. After his return to Canada, his studies eventually led back to pottery and he apprenticed with two Canadian potters before setting up his own studio.
Peter makes high-fired stoneware functional pots: vases, flower pots, kitchenware, urns. England had and has a lively studio pottery tradition that draws upon local folk roots, the Arts and Crafts movement, and the Asian, especially Japanese, tradition. In the late eighties Peter rode his bicycle around Japan visiting kilns and potteries. Peter’s forms and glazes reach back to those traditions, are inspired by the forms, colours and textures of nature, and return to our time the enduring pleasures of simplicity, comfort and beauty.
Peter throws his pots on the wheel in his home studio on the western tip of Montreal, applies glazes and then fires them in a large brick wood burning kiln he built in the Shield wilderness north of Kingston. Wood firing is the most ancient method of firing pots. Each firing is different, and each pot manifests the action of the flame upon the clay. A firing requires continual stoking with split slab wood over a 20-24 hour period. The kiln reaches temperatures of 1250 centigrade, and it takes days to cool enough to unpack. It is hard work and a labour of love.
Pottery is the oldest technology, forging the four elements: earth, air, water, and fire in a kind of alchemy. Pottery is exceptional in this time of manufactured excess, disposability, and the inexorable vanishing into the virtual. Many of us are confused about the role of possessions in our lives. The potter persists in the humble reimagining and recreating of the container, the vessel, one by one. The rest of us look, lift, hold a pot, and are brought back to our senses.