There’s nothing like a major retrospective of your work to make you look back over your career and figure out how it all started.
For Alexandra McCurdy, the seed to becoming a ceramic artist was planted as she walked past the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, which 40 years ago was located in a former church hall on Coburg Road, not far from the Dalhousie University campus. In the window, Alex, then an English major at Dal, could see students sitting at potter’s wheels, the clay gliding through their fingers, feet pumping the treadles. She finished her degree at Dal, even taught school for a few years, but the image stayed with her.
It wasn’t until a few years later that Alex, then in her 30s with a young family, decided that the art college was where she wanted to be.
"I found my home and NSCAD was it," says Alex, reached in the midst of packing fragile artworks for her retrospective, The Fabric of Clay—so named because of her long-standing interest in textiles. Tracing the evolution of her career from 1978 to 2011, the exhibition opened at the Burlington Art Centre in Burlington, Ont., and will travel to Saint Mary’s Art Gallery in Halifax and the Beaverbrook Gallery in Fredericton.
"NSCAD completely changed my life. I finally had a career I was interested in and it was high time."
Blue Box 2007. Porcelain, wire, beads, 13 X 13 cm. This piece was nominated for the 2011 Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor’s Masterworks Award and won Best in Design at Fireworks, the Ontario Clay and Glass Association’s biannual juried travelling exhibition in 2011. (Chris Myrh Photo)
Green and red footed bowl with cutouts. Porcelain, wire, beads, coloured underglazes, transparent glaze overtop. 12 X 13 cm. Part of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s permanent collection. (Gary Castle Photo)