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Earth Day “Turtle Talks” Coming to Jasper and Valemount

photo446.jpgJust in time for Earth Day, local potter and Raku artist Sharon Anderson will be displaying thirteen turtles carrying ancient legends and stories on their shells.

“Their bodies are containers holding the very essence of this knowing and of the unseen worlds,” said Anderson. They can also hold “keepsakes, sacred plants, sage, sweet grass, cedar, intentions, gifts to the Creator.”

“In the book, Grandmothers Counsel The World by Carol Schaefer, it is described how thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers from five continents gather to offer their vision for our planet. Inspiration for Turtle Talks came from within that wellspring of their teachings pointing toward the path of sustainability,” she said.

Turtles play a large role in the stories.

 “Grandmother Mona Polacca’s grandfather told her the turtle would tell the people about how to live, what kind of season to expect, how to prepare, how to behave toward others and how to stay strong as a nation.

“Four of the turtle stories relate to the Medicine Wheel, originating from around the globe. There were over 20,000 Medicine Wheels scattered across this continent before Europeans immigrated here. This earth-based wisdom was entrusted to the native people.”

As for the Raku method of firing, Anderson states: “I love the organic warmth produced by Raku. The smoke, use of pine needles, sawdust, leaves, all adds to the Earth Vision I have of what I do with clay.”

Anderson also offers workshops, attempting to spur creativity.

 “People think they’re not creative, but everybody’s creative. Just getting up and facing the day is a source of creativity: how we bake a loaf of bread, decorate our homes, nurture children. A lot of people say ‘Oh, I’m not creative’ so they hesitate to go to a workshop.

“So in this previous workshop, they each got a lump of clay. We blindfolded everybody and they made a mask with their hands, experiencing the malleable, soft feel of smooth fresh clay. When they took the blindfold off, they saw what they had created just through touch, feeling, and intuition and then changed it if they wanted. Next we put casting material on top of it, let that harden into a light mask, and decorated it with different feathers, cloth, papers, and paints. I just love seeing their creativity come out, especially when it surprises them. It really warms your heart.”

Other workshops have involved making small bowls, garden stones, birdhouses, and percussion drums.

Anderson says she is self-taught: “I’ve had a few mentors through the pottery club who helped me get up and running. I started with a big show of the thirteen grandmothers in Jasper. Prior to that I was making pots and things for guests, and we did have an outlet that carried my art in Jasper.”
Her art began in stories, Anderson said.

 “I just started. I’m not much of a drawer – I’m a journaler. It’s the stories, legends that motivate me to do what I do.”

Anderson and her husband Gord lived in Jasper for 28 years, raising two children. Anderson was involved in the arts community and served on several boards and committees including the Jasper Potter’s Guild. Currently she is a member of the Valemount Artist’s Guild and is “happy to have been part of the Valemount and Robson Valley community for 12 years”.

Turtle talks will be presented in Valemount at The Gathering Tree – Saturday April 17, 7 to 9 p.m. – Sunday April 18, 1 to 4 p.m. Treats provided. Jasper at Beloved – Earth Day, Thursday April 22, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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