There is a Reid Flock piece and a Robert Bateman piece in the annual Art Gallery of Burlington Auction

theartsBy Pepper Parr

June 3, 2015


When Reid Flock was a student in Burlington he used to hang around what was then known as the Burlington Art Centre and found himself drifting to the pottery section where he learned to throw clay.

Reid - red clay on shipping crate

Pottery: yes, of a different sort. The colours are resplendent and the shapes whimsical. A flock piece is up for bidding at the Art Gallery auction.

He found himself being heavily influenced by Kayo O’Young, a ceramist who worked out of Kleinburg. Reid may not have known it at the time but his future was being determined and he decided he needed to spend some time in Japan.

What was to be a one year trip turned into a nine year journey that brought him back to Canada where he now works out of a studio in Hamilton turning out some of the most astounding pottery this country has seen.

The Art Gallery of Burlington is holding its annual Art Auction – there will be a small piece of Flock’s work up for the bidders.

Reid pottery with Jonathan Smith and his brother

Jonathan Smith, curator of the ceramics collection at the Art Gallery of Burlington, looks over a Reid Flock piece that is being readied for shipping. Smith played a strong role in guiding Flock as he developed his skills with clay while at student.

Flock tells of the times Jonathan Smith would lock him in the ceramics vault at the art gallery where he would spend hours looking at different pieces and developing the sense of ceramics that allowed him to grow into the artist he is today.

Flock is perhaps the most accomplished artist to come out of the Burlington Gallery.

If you were to be invited to a display of pottery you would probably attend with an idea at least of what you were going to see – when you see the work that Flock does your understanding of pottery is shattered.

Flock calls his art whimsical – something that reflects a society and will smile when you tell him his work looks like baskets that happen to be made of “burnt dirt”.

I suggested to him that the Flocking Red Basket reminded me of the Queen of Hearts at the croket game in Alice in Wonderland. “Exactly”, flock responded “you’re beginning to understand the whimsy of it all.”

Reid Flock with his Dad

Reid Flock talking to his Dad about an idea he is working on.

Flock has no idea who buys his work when it is first sold. He learns later who has a piece and at times it is borrowed for a showing.

While his reds and his blues are, to this viewer, his most stunning, Flock has done pieces in black and in pick and has done a piece with polka dots – which I thought was taking whimsy a bit further than it might have been intended to go.

Flock is awaiting funding for a new tangent he wants to go off on – “squeeze toys” which was about all he wanted to say about the next venture other than to add that the pieces would be larger than his Flocking Red Basket which is the largest piece he has done.

During a meeting with Karen Brouwers at her Framesite location in Aldershot, Flock, his Dad along with Jonathan Smith and his brother were talking about how the red piece would be shipped – he has had at least one piece of his work broken in transit – he mentioned that his cat had climbed into the piece.  Seeing Reid Flock’s work as something with utility is a real stretch

There will be a small Flock piece at the Art Gallery of Burlington Art auction which is doing exceptionally well with their 200 for $200. event. Painting by some well-known local artists were snapped up very quickly. There are still some good pieces available.



Art Auction - more 200 x 200

Art Gallery curator Denis Longchamps looks over some of the 200 for $200 pieces that are still available at the annual Art auction

The Art Auction is being held at a time when weather, hopefully, will not have the negative impact it has had in the past.  This year the event has a theme: La Belle Époque that will see the gallery transposed into something resembling  Paris at the turn of the century.

It was a period of time seen as a “beautiful era: that began in the late 1800’s and ended with the start of the First World War.

The hope that those attending the event would take to costume and really represent the era is expecting too much – Burlington isn’t there yet.

However, young people from the Student Theatre under the guidance of Rainer Noack will be on hand and in costume. Our young have always led the way haven’t they?

The art auction committee is headed up by Cheryl Goldring, an artist in her own right, is looking for ways to take a new direction and trying to create a theme for each year and make the event not just a fund raiser but something that raises the cultural bar of the city.

The event is a major fund raiser for the Gallery which has gone through a very rough patch financially. The city had to basically bail them out to the tune of $100,000 a year for two years.

Art auction 200 for 200 dollars offering

Local art on sale at the Art Gallery of Burlington Auction.

The importing of a new President and CEO, Robert Steven, from Grande Prairie is the beginning of a stronger focus on the ceramics collection and hopefully boosting the reputation of the collection, which is really very good, to the point where it will draw people to the gallery and the city.

Some of the buzz going about the city suggests a new location for the Art Gallery might also be in the works – the property they are on has very significant value that a developer is believed to be talking to the city about exploiting.

Interesting times ahead.

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