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.
Lee is still a current Professional Craftsperson member of the SCC. He set up “Glass Eye Studio” in 1980, and since then has been working full time in architectural stained glass and glass fusion. You can learn more about Lee and see some of his work on his SCC Member Profile.
What compelled you to throw your $5 and yourself into creating a new organization dedicated to supporting craft?
In 1975 I was involved in ceramics at the University of Saskatchewan, and a group of fellow students heard of the meeting to establish a group of like-minded artists/craftspeople. I attended with Bobbi Tyrell.
As I was looking towards leaving the studios on campus and setting up my own workspace with no support or feedback, the idea of a mutual support group for the purposes of discussion, workshops and materials acquisition appealed to me. After that gathering, I set off to create a working space and proceeded to change my medium from clay to glass. With these distractions, and supporting myself by working outside crafts, I lost track of the SCC development until around 1979/80, when I joined the Craft Council as a member.
What are you most proud of over the last 40 years?
I am proud of the dedication and generosity that working craftspeople have shown over this time. The steady growth of membership, exhibition excellence and a higher profile of fine crafts to the public have been the constant mandate of the SCC. We succeeded in creating a visual presence in Saskatoon through the establishment of our building & gallery on Broadway Ave. We have also been conscious of the needs of craftspeople outside of Regina & Saskatoon via travelling exhibitions, workshops and mutual contact opportunities & information through newsletters & magazines.
In a career that places us in solitary studios/workshops for much of the year, it is important to have the opportunities to come together as like-minded creators.
What has disappointed you?
In general, I have not been disappointed with the growth and mandates of the SCC. At times, I have found the decisions of the board have been disappointing (eg. The cancellation of the much admired Craft Factor), but the change to electronic information & web site presence perhaps serves the overall membership better.
What are your hopes for the future?
I think that the continued concern for the encouragement of excellence, support and well being of the membership will take care of the future of Saskatchewan Crafts and the SCC.
What are you doing to celebrate Craft Year 2015 and our 40th anniversary?
Forging on with my work as always.