Mary Fox has devoted her life to the craft of pottery, and now she hopes her legacy will help shape the careers of future potters.
Before she was an internationally acclaimed artist, Fox struggled to find places to rent that could accommodate a studio. She managed to find studio spaces, but few of them inspired creativity. In her early years, one of the things that would have helped her the most was access to a low cost, fully equipped studio. After a conversation with her late wife, Fox embarked on the beginning of the Mary Fox Legacy Project.
“I’ve had a lot of basement studios in my life,” Fox said. “It’s very challenging for a young artist to get started. Ceramics is not like painting, you need a lot of equipment and space. The other thing is it takes a lot of years to hone your skills. It doesn’t happen overnight. I’m constantly hearing from young potters about the challenges they encounter trying to find studio space.”
Fox and her wife shared their home in Ladysmith for 16 years. During that time, she worked in the small garage attached to their house. It was the nicest space she had worked in up to that point. However, as her practice grew, the space felt smaller and smaller – she hardly had room for her equipment, let alone display what she was making. Fox began to envision her dream studio, and in August 2008, one year after her wife died, she lifted her home and built her dream.
Her home is now a breathtaking gallery, complete with a creation room and her old studio has become the kiln room. Upstairs is an open plan kitchen and living room with built in shelves to display her Mary Fox Collection. There is a photography room, and a work desk – everything a potter needs to work and document the work is on-site. The final floor is the loft, a beautiful space where Fox retreats at the end of her long working days.
When Fox passes away, the Mary Fox Legacy Project will ensure that her dream is maintained. Fox envisions an Artist Residency Program run at Mary Fox Pottery where a ceramic artist under the age of 30 can apply for a two-year residency, with an option of staying on for a third year.
The Legacy Project will be responsible for maintaining the building, grounds, equipment, taxes, and insurance. The artist would only be responsible for their supplies, utility costs, and ensuring that the gallery is open to the public Tuesday - Saturday from 11:00 am - 5:00 pm. The residency would be open to artists across Canada.
“The reason why it’s such a long residency is so they can really dive into the work. They will be able to sell the work they are creating in the gallery and hopefully by time their residency is over, not only have they learned a lot about the craft, but they’ll also have saved some coin to help start their own studio pottery.” Fox said.
A society has been established for the Legacy Project, and a board of directors will oversee operations of the project. Fox has set up an endowment fund through the Vancouver Foundation and the Craft Council of B.C. to which people can donate and receive a tax receipt.
For now, Fox is hard at work on a book that is part memoir, and part ceramic skills guide. Her book is expected to be published early summer, 2020 by Harbour Publishing. Fox has always planned on writing a book and had photographs taken over the years of her work since her early beginnings as a clay artist.
“I envisioned writing the book when I was in my 70s, but it was suggested to me that I write it now so I can talk about and promote the legacy project,” Fox said.
Once the book is published, Fox will begin the work of raising awareness and funds for the Legacy Project. Fox is looking to raise over $1 million for the endowment fund to ensure the Legacy Project can continue in perpetuity.
For more information on the Mary Fox Legacy Project, visit: maryfoxpottery.ca/legacy.