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Move to Royal City Park kicks pottery market up another level

May 27-28, edition 13 of the Guelph Potters Market

The Guelph Potter’s Market made a pretty smart move last year.

The longstanding showcase and sale of Ontario’s finest pottery took leave of the semi-outdoor Goldie Mill ruins last year. It was as hot as a kiln in there when the sun baked the roofless structure.

The event was staged for the first time in 2016 around the bandstand in Royal City Park, and the crowd doubled.

Barb Murphy, market coordinator, thinks that was a fairly good outcome. There are more vendors this year, five more. And while Murphy is cautious when it comes to predicting numbers, there is a good chance attendance will grow again.

It happens next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, May 27-28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. There will be 65 vendors, including two renowned Ontario potters known far and wide for their efforts to train potters in the craft. This is the event’s 13th year.

“It was phenomenal last year,” Murphy said. “Goldie Mill, as lovely as it is, was pretty obscure. And if you’re not really from here, or from the downtown, you don’t even know it’s there. It was hard to get people there.”

Nevertheless, people did find their way there, with steady crowds milling through the mill and buying lots of pieces of pottery. But the potters always got overheated.

“Inside the ruin was super hot,” Murphy said. “It was like an oven and the potters got really hot.”

Royal City Park is another story. Breezy, cool, under the trees and next to the river, it proved ideal for potters and shoppers alike last year.

“We had double the attendance,” Murphy said. “We were visible. It rained, and it didn’t matter.”

The two-day show and sale features work by potters from various parts of Ontario and from as far away as Quebec, all the work is unique, in many styles, materials and techniques. There are mugs and dishes, teapots, plates and vases, masks, planters and sculptures, and more.

The market is the only outdoor pottery market of its kind in Ontario, and patterns itself after well-known potters’ markets in Europe. Admission is free, and it happens sun or rain.

“Because it is a good show, and because Guelph is so fabulous with supporting the arts, the people support us,” Murphy added. “They come out and they buy.”

Pottery superstars Tony Clennell, adjunct professor of ceramics in Sheridan College’s School of Craft and Design, and Bruce Cochrane, professor emeritus of ceramics at Sheridan, will be special guests at the market, bringing their famous pottery with them.

“They are pottery royalty,” Murphy said. “Their work is collected all over the world.”

Learn all about the venue and the vendors here.