Joan McNeil: Founder’s Interview

In 2015, the SCC is celebrating its 40th anniversary. In 1975, fifty-seven Saskatchewan artisans organized themselves into a determined force with a single voice and a common purpose. That purpose was to promote and raise the profile of Saskatchewan artisans, improve the quality of work produced, and facilitate communication among the membership. Each of these people donated just $5 to this cause and the Saskatchewan Craft Council was born. You can read more about our history here.

Our board members and staff have come together to conduct interviews with as many of these founding members as we can, in celebration of this milestone. We are interested in these founders’ thoughts around why we came into being and their insights for the future.

Joan McNeil

Joan McNeil received her MFA in Sculpture and Ceramics in 1982 at the University of Regina. Since leaving Saskatchewan, she has taught ceramics and other courses at the Alberta Collage of Art and Design, the University of Calgary, and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She now lives and works in Toronto, Ontario.

What compelled you to throw your $5 and yourself into creating a new organization dedicated to supporting craft?

I was working in ceramics on my own in my basement studio in Craven. I don’t remember much about the formation of the Craft Council, although I was there at the beginning and I guess I got involved because I knew some of the other founders – Marline Zora, Mel Bolen, Charley Farrero, and others. I remember driving up to the meetings in Saskatoon, although what we did at those meetings I honestly don’t remember! Maybe I was the treasurer. I do remember that I designed the Craft Council logo and I’m pleased to see that you are still using it.

What are you most proud of over the last 40 years?

Because I have not lived in Saskatchewan since 1986, I have lost contact with the Craft Council and everybody involved in it so I can’t answer this question.

Any other thoughts?

I am glad that the Council is still in existence. There is nothing like the optimism involved in being part of a community of people with shared hopes for the future and who are venturing into something new and brimming with ideas – and to keep it that way. It is vitally important when you are involved in an occupation that is essentially a lonely one to share experiences and contribute to an idea you feel strongly about.