I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published September 1st 2012
A unique creative venue in the heart of historic Guildford
There is something about working creatively with clay which is immensely satisfying. It never fails to amaze me how potters have the ability to breathe life into what was previously a lump of cold inert matter, and create a form of beauty and functionality. Pottery is also one of the oldest art-forms: one which most ancient civilisations throughout the world, including those of Rome, China, India, North America and Greece, practiced in some form or another.
Wandering around historic Guildford recently, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the Swan Valley's most established and well-known art spaces: the Guildford Village Potters, at 22 Meadow Street, right next to the Swan Valley Tourist Information Centre in the historical courthouse precinct. Established in 1981, the Guildford Village Potters is a group of twenty-two professional artisans who work in a wide variety of pottery styles ranging from traditional tableware to the Japanese raku style and funky contemporary sculptural pieces.
The works of the group members are attractively displayed throughout the gallery, a historical building which once, long ago, was the home of the local police constable. New items are also constantly arriving, as the members complete them. One thing that amazed me during my visit was how affordable many of the items on display were, despite the fact that they were all handmade 'one off' creations. Of course, some of the works were very large with a lot of detail, and this was naturally reflected in their price. However, smaller items were often available for as little as $10.00: amazing, considering all the love and care which has gone into each piece. For clients who desire a quality, individually designed piece, special commissions are also accepted.
In addition to the Gallery, the Guildford Village Potters also houses a studio, where regular classes are held for both adults and children. During my visit I was kindly escorted around the premises and observed some of the students busy on the potters' wheels, under the tutelage of one of the expert potters. Adults' group classes are held every Wednesday, from 6pm until 9pm, and Sunday from 9am until 12 noon. Tuition is just $20.00 for a three hour lesson, which is payable in advance at the beginning of the term. However, if classes aren't full, it's possible for new-comers to join later in the term. In addition to the tuition costs, students need to purchase their own clay, which is available at the centre. The firing of items for students is also an additional charge. For more information about the Wednesday evening class, call Janice Bradley on 08 9454 6359 and to find out more about the class on Sunday, call Bernadette Wakefield on 08 6296 7950.
During the school holidays, the Guildford Village Potters also holds special classes for children, each with a different theme such as masks, robots and making a piggy money-box. Generally, the classes run from 9.30am until 11.30am, with a short break halfway through. Groups are small, with just 10 to 14 children in each, and the teacher-student ratio is 1 teacher to 7 children, so everyone gets plenty of guidance, if it's needed. It is also a requirement of the class that each child has a responsible adult present at all times. This can be a parent, grandparent or family friend, and one adult can be responsible for a few children. As of the date of writing this article, the cost for these classes is $22.00, including clay and firing. Bookings are essential, as the classes are very popular, and payment is required in advance. For more details phone Judy Nastov on 9249 2362 or 0439 869 503, or email her on firstname.lastname@example.org.
In conclusion, Guildford Village Potters is a lovely creative place to pop in to when you're next in Guildford. As far as I'm aware, it's truly a 'one of a kind' art centre here in Perth, as it's totally dedicated to pottery, unlike others which promote a range of different creative media. The group members work on a rotating roster to 'man' the gallery and shop, and those I spoke to were more than happy to share their creative journey with me and answer any questions which I had. For lovers of hand-made arts and crafts, aspiring artisans, or anyone who is looking for a unique yet affordable present for a wedding or someone special, it's definitely worth making the trip to this wonderful art centre, regardless of how far away you live. The Guildford Village Potters is open on weekdays from 9.30am until 3.00pm, and on weekends and public holidays from 10.00am until 4.30pm. For more information, go to their website or call them on 08 9279 9859.