Simon van der Ven

Making objects for warmth, light, and nourishment

My capacities as an artist are limited to the boundaries of my gratitude.”

Upcoming Show: From the Wrack Line – images from the periphery

Opening Thursday, April 3rd, 6–8 pm, at Perimeter Gallery (in Chase’s Daily, 96 Main St., Belfast, Maine). This solo exhibition of prints, sculpture, and drawings runs through May 18.

That’s right, no clay. The actual work for this show began several years on the shoreline of Matinicus Island. Jesse Gillespie and I were looking for material for a show he was curating at CMCA. In truth, the wrack line (or littoral zone) has fascinated me since childhood. It’s the line between ocean and land. It is neither and both, rich with unexpected treasure and metaphor.

Though this is a departure from my clay work, it’s still very much connected to it. I think they strengthen and inform each other. When you see the show, tell me what you think.

The clay work certainly continues. I will be the technical facilitator in the clay studio for the Haystack Residency session (May 25 – June 6). I’ll be participating in the Blue Hill Fine Craft Show (click here to view last year’s participants) which will be moving to the Samoset for this summer’s show, August 9 and 10. A show highlighting my collaboration with the remarkable Mark Bell is tentatively set for late summer at CRAFT (more details to come). I will be at CRAFTBOSTON December 5–7. In between, I continue to apply to juried shows here an abroad.

Please honor me with your presence April 3rd at Perimeter in Belfast.
It’s gonna be a party…

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Found this Bernard Leach quote in Garth Clark’s THE POTTER’S ART (1995 Phaidon): “A potter is one of the few people left who uses his natural faculties of heart, head, and hand in balance — the whole man. HIs is a way of life. Good pots require the ardour of vocation and the devotion of a lifetime.”
I’m not willing to say I am one of the few left, but balancing those faculties is a struggle I clearly recognize. I love it when my pots hold and reflect a practice that sustains emotion, idea, and physicality. Clay has a way of demanding all of me.

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Seasons Greetings 2012

It is a clear and beautiful day, and the festive season is here. To my right, through the window, I see our shining holly bush. To my left stands a Christmas tree awaiting lights and decoration. May you and your loved ones have joy, warmth, and contentment now and throughout the new year.


I have three pieces in the Small Works Show at Perimeter Gallery (in Chase’s Daily, 96 Main St., Belfast). The show opened December 6. This is new work, and it’s not clay! And so may be surprising to many of you. The project began a few years ago while working on Matinicus Island with my dear friend, Jesse Gillespie. I find the material and process compelling, and will continue in this vein for some time, albeit without giving up on clay. This new medium, and the clay seem to feed each other. The Small Works Show will continue through the month during Chase’s Daily’s regular hours.

The 5th Annual Holiday Art Show at High Mountain Hall (5 Mountain St., Camden) begins December 14 with a wine and hors d’oeuvres preview/reception from 5 to 9pm. Patty Bolz and I invited five other outstanding midcoast artists to join us this year: Annie Bailey, Julie Richard Crane, Cynthia McGuirl , Austin Smith, and Jessica Stammen. The show continues Saturday, December 15 from 10am to 4pm. Bay Chamber Concerts is this year’s beneficiary of our annual ‘Saturday Only’ raffle — it’s a good chance to win your favorite artist’s work for a small donation to a very good cause. The entire show is a great opportunity to find the perfect gifts for your treasured friends and family.

And don’t forget Extravaganza at Åarhus in Belfast. They always have an amazing collection of art and craft for your visual pleasure and gift-giving delight (naturally they carry van der Ven Studios ceramics.)

One of my goals for this year was to get my work out to a broader audience. I met with considerable success. Highlights include: two pieces juried into the 19th San Angelo National Ceramics Competition, jurors Mark DelVecchio and Garth Clark (both pieces were sold at the show, one earned an honorable mention and was purchased by the museum); two pieces juried into FLASHPOINT — an international wood fire exhibition, juror John Balistreri (one piece also earned an honorable mention); another piece was juried into the 20th Strictly Functional Pottery National (SFPN) by the inimitable Jack Troy, winning the ‘Best Thrown and Altered’ award, the HACC Ceramics Club purchase award, and the “People’s Choice” award. Long time director, Jean Lehman said, ” In the 20 year history of SFPN, I cannot think of another time that one person received two awards
and then also won the People’s Choice Award. People who attend the exhibition take voting for their choice very seriously.”

Next year, I look to continue expanding my audience, revamping the website, finding national representation, new teaching opportunities, making more sculptural work, and to seeing and hearing from you. Take care. Be well.


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2013 Potters Council Calendar

Just found out I had a second wood-fired piece selected for a Potters Council calendar. Click HERE to check out the 2013 Alternative Firing Collection, maybe even order your very own.

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Mark Bell show at Åarhus

Master potter and great friend MARK BELL will be showing at Åarhus in Belfast. The show starts at the end of the month and continues through September. The opening is this Friday, the 31st. I am most definitely going. Hope to see you there.

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Attention C-R Alumni and Friends

Jesse Gillespie, Kate Fraser, and John Warner are among my former students out there making art. All have great websites for us to see.
I know there are many more of you. Please make contact and let me know if you’d like to be added to a list of websites I plan to post on my “about” page. This is the deal: if you add a link to me in your website, I’ll post yours!
I look forward to hearing from you.

V (Siem)

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van der Ven/ Metzger at Åarhus Gallery

The marvelous people at Åarhus saw fit to offer me the entire floor for all of July. They brilliantly paired me with Susan Metzger. Her paintings are gorgeous and I love the harmonies between our work. I am so pleased to have the opportunity to show with her.

The opening reception was Friday, July 1. Thank you to all who came and joined the fesitivities. Your enthusiasm and support felt so good.

The show includes lots of new work. I managed to photograph most of it before taking it to Belfast. I am currently processing the images and will get them up on the website as soon as I can.

Other upcoming shows include:

Lake Hebron Artisans TEAPOT II, Monson, Maine, July 1 — 31
Maine Crafts Guild’s 36th ANNUAL MDI DIRECTIONS SHOW, Mount Desert Island, July 29 — 31
FIRE, ASH, SMOKE, AND SALT at Craft Gallery, Rockland, August 5 — Sept. 3
ISLESBORO INVITATIONAL GROUP SHOW at the Historical Society, Islesboro, August 5 — 10
CMCA’s WORK OF THE HAND, Rockport, October 6 — 10

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Outerbridge Ceramic Collection

I’ve put together a rather nice little catalogue of Kate’s Aunt Lilias’ ceramic collection. It’s a gorgeous grouping of significant work with an interesting history. Most of the pieces are by Hamada Shoji. There are some Bernard and David Leach pots as well as some fascinating unidentified pieces. You can preview and buy the book at There’s large version and a small version. Let me know what you think.

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Colorado, here I come!

I am very happy to announce that I have been awarded a residency at Anderson Ranch in Snowmasse Village, CO. It’s a ten week program. I begin, along with thirteen other residents, February 1, 2012. I consider this a huge honor. I am so psyched.

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The best teaching (learning) seldom ends with explanation. It is the offering of discovery, the bringing to a threshold that matters most.

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