A local potter who’s world-renowned yet down-to-earth
Mary Fox Pottery
Situated at the northern cusp of the Cowichan Region is the town of Ladysmith, a town that grew rapidly in the early years of the twentieth century thanks to a robust mining industry. Although coal mining all but petered out in the 1930s, it’s somewhat fitting that one of the town’s most celebrated businesses has become world famous for crafting items whose main ingredient comes from within the earth.
Mary Fox is neither a miner nor a descendant of the founding fathers of Ladysmith. She is the self-effacing, sole proprietor of Mary Fox Pottery, a business that has received more awards and international acclaim than enterprises with dozens of employees and multiple locations. Mary’s bio reads much like any artist’s, but without the struggling part. Raised in Victoria in the 1970s, she was literally drawn into the world of pottery by a singular passion for clay.
Self-taught with only the guidance of library books on the subject, by the age of 16, she became good enough to be offered a job as an instructor at night school. Celebrating with graduating students twice her age posed a problem, as she was still three years shy of being allowed into the pub!
Whereas many artisan stars begin with a flash and resort to teaching in their twilight years, Mary has done just the opposite. Shortly after her teaching experience, she opened her first studio and subsequently dedicated the rest of her life to her true calling: producing pottery that defies description.
“When you see her works, you’ll understand how Mary has marched to the beat of a different drummer. Trial and error, élan, plus an innate sense of creativity and alchemy have helped her create a style of pottery all her own. ”
Her functional pieces, such as mugs, bowls, jugs and casseroles are all art unto themselves, but it’s her decorative forms, chalices and other vessels that have set her apart as a true artist. Each of these is differentiated by Mary’s unique formulation and application of glazes and multiple firings in the kiln. Particularly striking is her use of locally sourced rocks and a manner of “crawl glaze”, which makes each piece an inimitable objet d’art.
Mary’s won more accolades than she could possibly fit onto the walls of her studio and her work has been exhibited around the world. And although she walked away from teaching long ago, she’s come full circle by accepting speaking engagements and giving workshops to aspiring potters. Her other passion of late is working with interior designers, who often commission her work when they want something truly unique and original for their clients’ homes or offices.
Perhaps the most appealing trait of Mary Fox is her approachability. A truly down-to-earth person, she can be reached by telephone just about anytime and if you’re lucky enough to be traveling through Ladysmith on any given weekday, she’s more than happy to give you a studio tour and chat about her work. The only time inadvisable is between 10 and 11 am when she has to go for walkies with her two associates, “Snarls” – a dachshund terrier cross who thinks she’s a werewolf, and “Amy”, a Bichon Frise poodle cross.
Mary’s studio is located at 321 3rd Ave, Ladysmith, BC
Phone: (250) 245-3778