=Arts Council of the North Okanagan and special guest artist Bob Kingsmill’s work is on display, and most for sale, until April 5 at the Arts Centre, located at the entrance to Polson Park, next to the Okanagan Science Centre. Monday to Thursday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Contributed photo)

Okanagan displays March of the Masks

From the paper and cloth masks of the pandemic, to creative Mardi Gras masks

With masks very much being a large part of our lives over the last year, the face-coverings are being celebrated in their various forms.

March of the Masks is the current exhibit on display at the Vernon Community Arts Centre, featuring members of the Arts Council of the North Okanagan, and special guest artist Bob Kingsmill.

Masks of glass, metal, paper, fibre and clay are all on display, with subjects ranging from Mardi Gras masks to those related to the pandemic. Each artist interpreted the theme in their own unique way. Feature artist Kingsmill is known around the world for his sculptural clay masks, and was very generous in bringing down a large collection for the show. Known as being a bit of a comedian, you will find Kingsmill’s sense of humour in each and every piece, which brings levity to the heaviness with often feel when we hear the word mask.

“Bob Kingsmill is considered a local legend in the pottery world, and we are honoured to show his work here at the Arts Centre,” centre marketing co-ordinator Sheri Kunzli said.

Kingsmill has been a full-time sculptor and potter for over five decades, is a master at his craft, and has been a humble and generous ceramics instructor, sharing his knowledge locally and throughout the province for many years. Born in Vancouver in 1941, he spent his childhood in Winnipeg where he earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Manitoba in 1964. He then trained in ceramics under the tutelage of Muriel Guest in Winnipeg before returning to British Columbia and establishing his own pottery studio in Kelowna in 1967. This was where he also started the Mission Hall Sale and he was instrumental in helping numerous Okanagan potters gain recognition for their work. In the ’70s, Kingsmill moved to Bowen Island where he compiled his first book, A Catalogue of British Columbia Potters (published 1978). In 1979, Kingsmill opened a studio on Granville Island in Vancouver, which he continues to operate alongside his home studio on the outskirts of Vernon.

Kingsmill produces a wide variety of stoneware and raku-fired ceramics, including wall murals, masks, and functional pottery. Three of his bronze masks actually rest on the facade of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre, and his murals can be found around the world.

READ MORE: The mystery of the three masks

Besides his artistic endeavours, Kingsmill has led many pottery workshops throughout B.C. and has taught at Capilano College, Malaspina College, Emily Carr College of Art and Design, and right at the Vernon Community Arts Centre.

“To unexpectantly find the arts has allowed me to ride a continuum of exploration and growth. It is as if there were a line-up of objects waiting to be made and I keep working in the awareness that the line will never diminish in length. It is perfect,” Kingsmill said.

March of the Masks is on until April 5, and most pieces are for sale. Hours are Monday to Thursday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m, and Friday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The Arts Centre is located at the entrance to Polson Park, right next to the Okanagan Science Centre.

READ MORE: Prizes up for grabs in support of Okanagan Science Centre


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