Johnathan Bullock is a modern day potter but his work could easily have graced the tables of King Arthur.

There is an ancient quality to the hand made work. Carved spirals adorn the rims of plates. Undulating striations gently wrap around the sides of vessels. Jewel-tone glazes of blue, rose, and green are set off by a patina of aged bronze. Johnathan's pottery is dramatic and compelling. It vibrates with the vigour of the artist.

"I have a personal, spiritual faith. I believe in something that I can't name," reflects Johnathan about how he developed his distinctive and personal style. "I'm given these gifts, these ideas, I don't know if I can take responsibility for them."

On another level, Johnathan's work has evolved from a willingness to take risks, working hard, listening to his intuition, and being open to change. "It has been an on-going process. Each year, my pottery gets better and better," observes the twenty-nine year old artist who graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1992.

Johnathan originally began his art studies majoring in communication and design. With limited artistic freedom, the program proved to be creatively frustrating. To relieve stress, Johnathan took an extra course in ceramics. 
"By the end of the year, I had failed typography miserably but I had a locker full of bowls that I had made," admits the soft spoken and charming potter.

"At that moment, I decided that it didn't matter how much money I could make, I had to do what I liked. It was a risk to take ceramics."

It  was the clay's tactile quality that initially drew Johnathan to the medium and continues to allure him. "I am able to manipulate it in any way I want and, in the end, I am left with something that I can pick up, hold, has a function, and can be shared with people. I get joy from other people's excitement about the work," enthuses Johnathan who has made a ten piece dinner set for singer Sarah McLachlan. "All the energy I put into my pottery goes out into the world where people enjoy it and that creates something positive that somehow comes back to me tenfold."

At first, learning how to throw clay on the potter's wheel was a challenge.  "It took me two years to make a bowl that I was completely happy with," acknowledges the Huntsville born man. "Centering the clay on the wheel goes much deeper than physical strength and balance, it also requires an emotional balance. Because the clay is so impressionable, when I am working at the wheel, I can't be thinking of anything else or else it will show in the work."

Everything is done by Johnathan's own hand. It's a labour intensive process from the beginning to the end. First, all the work is thrown by hand on the potter's wheel. After drying for half a day, the pottery is trimmed and the pieces put together. The carving, which defines Johnathan's work, is completed freehand. Once the work is thoroughly dry, it is bisked fired. Then, three layers of glaze are hand painted on to the work, with the colour overlapping in order to create the appearance of one color dissolving into the next hue. The glaze firing poses the last hazard for the work. This uncertainty is part of the process that Johnathan thrives upon: " The element of risk is thrilling. I like opening up the kiln and being surprised by the results of the experiment."

Every once in a while, Johnathan will take a creative break from making his beautiful yet functional pottery to make work just for himself. "For me, the sculptural work is a way of expressing myself, of discovering who I am. An artist's work should show how he feels about himself as an artist," contemplates Johnathan. "I enjoy being an artist. It's my passion and I will not give it up. I acknowledge my gratitude for being an artist."

210 First Street, Gravenhurst, Ontario

June-October, Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm


All artwork on this page is copyrighted by Johnathan Bullock. Text is copyrighted by Elene J. Freer. 
It may not be copied or reproduced by any means or used without the expressed approval of Johnathan Bullock.

It may not be copied or reproduced by any means or used without the expressed approval of Miranda Britton. 

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