National Interests

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The only gallery with coastto-coast artist representation. The largest collection of contemporary Canadian ceramic art in the country. A mecca for collectors, curators and gallery directors. All of this is being celebrated at a Group Show April 6 for the 18th anniversary of Jonathon Bancroft-Snell Gallery in downtown London.

The 125 ceramic artists participating in the show have all exhibited in the past at the gallery. “We work hard to bring the top people with the best skills in ceramic art,” said Bancroft-Snell. “Most of them are senior artists, but we have artists in their 20s.”

It’s a challenge shipping such fragile work across the country. “Maintaining a gallery of this size and this kind of inventory is quite something. The most remarkable thing that separates us from most galleries is the size of our gallery. It allows us to have a large collection. We have work that artists do to earn a living and we have major exhibition work.” Prices range from $20 to multiple thousands of dollars.

Bancroft-Snell said a South African artist in her 90s schedules visits to her daughter in Toronto to coincide with openings at the London gallery. “People fly in from all over for an opening. People can’t believe it’s in London, Ontario. We’re definitely a destination.”

The staff works with customers to educate and help them build collections. For example, Bancroft-Snell said if a high school student is interested in a collection of mugs from across Canada, they can introduce the novice collector to the top ceramic artists in the country.

Clientele come from all walks of life and all ages. Openings can attract 75 to 250 people. “Most people socialize with others from the field they’re in. At openings, we make a concerted effort to introduce people. They become friends. It widens their social circle.”

General manager and chief curator Brian Cooke shared his expertise in collectors and collections at the Tom Thomson Gallery in Owen Sound with an exhibit called Anatomy of a Collection.

For anyone interested in seeing ceramic art at its best, the anniversary Group Show will feature the work of about 125 artists.