Bethany Riordan-Butterworth – June Artist Profile

brb01_studio_dec2012Raised in rural Quebec, Bethany now calls Halifax home. A graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, she has attended residencies at the Craft Council of Newfoundland, Struts Gallery, Haystack Mountain and Arrowmont School.

Bethany currently shares a studio at Wonder’neath Studio where she produces functional pottery as Bread and Butter Pottery; she is an instructor at the George Dixon Centre and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; and shares a collaborative practice with Ella Tetrault- together they facilitate the Fuller Terrace Lecture Series, a community-based project in Halifax’s North End.


An organization looking out for you.

I joined VANS after graduating from NSCAD because I wanted to access the resources offered, particularly the Mentorship Program- I successfully participated in it’s first year! VANS was so helpful during that experience and I felt it was important to continue to be involved- since becoming a member I’ve participated in PAINTS, attended a variety of workshops and have been invited to be a panelist in two “After School Special” presentations, which were a lot of fun. I also enjoy the publication- what a gem!

VANS is an informative resource and an excellent way to connect with a larger community. Pursuing a career as an artist means there isn’t a direct path from one point to another, and that can be overwhelming! It’s good to know there is an organization looking out for you.

The ocean and stories, humor and light.

I would describe my work as playful and varied- I pursue a number of projects at the same time, which keeps things interesting! My biggest influence is life on the east coast- the connection with the sea and the history and imagery that comes along with it. The lifestyle really sings to me, and the presence of strong visual and oral traditions makes a lot of sense in relation to my work. If I were to boil it all down I’d say my influences are my surroundings and the people close to me, so the ocean and stories, humor and light. I am curious about the subtle influences of the smaller picture- this curiosity is present in my desire to make functional pottery for everyday use and in the exploration of narrative through the Fuller Terrace Lecture Series.

Trusting the world and my decisions.

I think the challenge for me has been one of the mind- realizing how much of a commitment it takes to pursue a career in the arts and how many compromises are made for the sake of a creative lifestyle. Of course I can’t imagine it any other way, but it has made for a lot of self-doubt and many arguments with myself!  Trusting the world and my decisions can be a hard thing to do, but things keep coming around in amazing ways.

In terms of success, I would say that learning to do things myself has been my biggest success- making projects for myself and making things happen. We are very fortunate to have such a strong and supportive community out here, I really wouldn’t be where I am without the people around me.

Quality of life and how that relates to quality of work.

In March I was at the One Of A Kind Show in Toronto, which is a huge show and a huge amount of work. While I had a great time and made lots of connections, being there made me check in with myself about the path that I want to take and the places where I want to focus my energy. I think a lot about quality of life and how that relates to quality of work, and where I fit into it all. Since my return I’ve been in my studio a lot, slowly developing a new body of work for the Fall, trying to get a bit more playful and be a bit looser with my designs. We’ll see how it all turns out!

On a different note, Ella Tetrault and I have been hatching plans for the 2014 Fuller Terrace Lecture Series, which is really exciting. Ella has been living in Germany for the past few years so we’ve been developing ways to continue the project despite the physical distance. We’ll be hosting 3 lectures in Halifax and 3 lectures in Berlin. Take a look at our website for dates and locations.

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