… be engaged in a wide-range of pursuits from the aesthetic and philosophical to the material and technical …
Since moving to New Brunswick in 1970, Powning has made his living as a potter, initially selling work locally but steadily gaining national and international recognition for his distinctive raku pottery and his sculptural work in clay, glass and bronze. His work expresses both an appetite for experimentation and a deep reverence for the rural community where he has made his home.
In 1991, Powning was given the Deichman Award for excellence in craft as well as a bronze award in the Second International Ceramics Competition in Mino Japan. He has served as vice president and president of N B Craft Council, been selected to serve on a NB Premier’s Advisory Committee on the Arts. Powning has been instrumental in establishing artist-run galleries in Sussex and Saint John while continuing to exhibit nationally and internationally. He is an advisor to the NB College of Craft and Design, vice president of ArtsLink, a non-profit arts advocacy organization, and current president of the Sussex Choral Society.
In the artist’s words
To me the biggest challenge of making a living as an artist is balancing the need for expression and experimentation with the need for income. Most of what I make has to pass the test of the marketplace. While I haven’t let this dictate what I make, it does mean that, much of what I do, must not only have appeal to me but also be accessible to others. This forces a certain practicality to preside over my working life. Periodically, I chafe at this, but it also offers an imposed discipline that perhaps, in the long run, has been beneficial. The habits of production; an almost unconscious stream of work, permits the subconscious to work on what are initially intellectual ideas, lets them ferment and transmute, connect with universal themes and forms and evolve into the occasional piece that rises above the rest. This process is elusive, transitory and at the best of times transcendent. Being in the grip of the creative art is always more profound than the resulting piece and is what I love most about being an artist. I also thrive on the sense of this shared “secret” with other artists. The core at the centre of all our striving may vary but there does seem to be a similarity in our compulsions.
I am lucky in my work not only to make a livelihood, but to also be engaged in a wide range of pursuits from the aesthetic and philosophical to the material and technical. I am defined within my community by what I do and it provides me with a base from which I can view and react to the world. It is a challenging and rewarding existence.