An innate love for ceramics started Amy Klinkhamer on her journey toward becoming a professional clay artist. London born and educated, Amy attended art classes at H.B. Beal Secondary School and enrolled in 2010 at Fanshawe College to take its fine arts program. Botany was her next calling, which she pursued at Seneca College. Not one to take anything for granted, Amy has always treasured the ability to work with her hands. “Taking a clump of mud and actually turning it into something useful, a functional piece is amazing. The fact that I can start something basic, finish, and hand it to someone who will use it everyday is a really humbling experience.”
Amy has been a member of The London Potters Guild (LPG) for several years and started her involvement with London Clay Art Centre (LCAC) in 2018 when she began renting one of its semi-private studios. In September 2019, she became LCAC’s next Canadian Artist-in-Residence (AIR) occupying a larger space for a one-year term with the goal of developing her work at a professional level.
This passionate creator takes pride in designing simplistic pieces with clean lines. Delving a bit more into her adventurous side, Amy has begun working on what she describes as “fun pieces, large, earthy and organic.” She often adds natural elements such as driftwood into her creations.
There is no doubt that Amy has developed tremendously as an artist during her time at LCAC. Her exposure to the art form, as well as the various facets of the business of being a successful clay artist have been quite enlightening. A full-time artist, Amy praises LCAC’s AIR program for providing her with “a great foundation that will serve me well in the future.” As the Canadian AIR she receives free studio space for a year in exchange for five hours weekly of time devoted to such tasks as loading and unloading kilns, making glazes, cleaning shelves, and helping with periodic facility maintenance. She notes that these little things are actually a big deal because they remind her of the importance of having and maintaining a clean space not just for professional purposes, but health and safety as well.
One of the numerous benefits of LCAC’s AIR program is the level of comfort and confidence it helps to build. The working world can be daunting for a new artist fresh out of school. Amy notes that while artists are eager to create and sell their pieces, they are never quite ready and still need a bit of creative and intellectual polishing. According to her, LCAC provides a much-needed sense of belonging, boosts artists’ sense of self and worth, and teaches much needed technical and entrepreneurial skills as well. Artists are afforded precious time to ease into their respective roles and properly hone their skills.
Another aspect of the studio that Amy truly values is the close-knit community within LCAC. “You can bounce ideas off many of the 180 members. People are always available to critique my work and provide invaluable feedback that I probably wouldn’t get elsewhere. They want you to succeed.” LCAC recently launched its Clay 4 Kids Program. Amy calls it “a fabulous initiative” and adds that she would love to see more youth get involved to discover their creativity and have fun. Ultimately, she believes that bringing more young people into the Centre will benefit its younger clay entrepreneurs by helping develop a stronger sense of community. Among her peer group Amy says conversations focus on skill and technique improvement, how to turn clay artistry into a full-time job, and advice about marketing for upcoming shows. Having a fully formed mentorship community at LCAC where those topics can be openly discussed would be tremendously valuable for up and coming clay artists.
CLAYWORX: CERAMIC ARTS LEARNING CENTRE
FOrmerly LONDON POTTERS GUILD AND LONDON CLAY ART CENTRE
664 Dundas Street
London, ON N5W 2Y8 CANADA