Tanis Saxby @ The Crawl
It’s that time of year when great swarms of us would be buzzing around artist studios for the Eastside Culture Crawl: visiting old friends, discovering new talents. In 2020, of course, this doesn’t happen. But, the Crawl continues and artists have exciting new work to show us.
This year, the Crawl is offering limited in-studio visits, reservations only, over an extended period of time: from November 12th to 15th and November 19th to 22nd. One of the 257 exhibiting artists is the enormously talented sculptor Tanis Saxby, who is now exhibiting in New York and quickly finding her way into international collections. We were delighted to learn more about Saxby and her sculptures …
i. I work as a:
I’m a sculptor, creating most of my work using porcelain clay with accents in other materials.
ii. I do this creative work because:
When I was a child I was very shy. I learned to express myself, my thoughts and feelings, through drawing then later through sculpting. Now, I’m not as shy although I still use sculpture as a way to express something I have to say, or an experience I want to share with others.
iii. In the Eastside Culture Crawl, you’ll find me:
Online through virtual studio visits. Outside Crawl hours, studio visits are welcome and people can contact me to make an appointment by e-mail at [email protected] and my website is tanissaxby.com.
iv. A ‘typical’ day for me in the pandemic involves:
My days during the pandemic are similar to what it was like before, although they are peppered throughout the day with hand washing and wearing a mask. I work alone in my studio so self isolating is common for me. The highlight in a day for me is when I get on a “roll” in the studio and I can’t wait to arrive to make it in clay. It’s equally lovely to come home after exhausting myself from making work to my family or a virtual visit with friends.
v. Personal qualities that help me in my work are:
Because I was so shy as a child and expressed myself through creating, I learned to listen to myself and develop a sense of my inner knowing and guidance. I have been able to practise listening to my gut instinct and I’m learning to bring this into my daily life.
vi. The greatest challenges around doing this work are:
The unpredictability of the income and the rejections. I have learned to trust the bigger picture and to manage my money well.
vii. Creative childhood hobbies:
My mom always said I was a quiet, very “quiet” child. I think this is because I was always pretending and creating worlds out of almost anything I could put my hands on; salt and pepper shakers became friends that hung out together, my shoes became sisters, my hands a large family. When I played with my toys, I was so focused my mom said that I could barely hear what what going on around me. This is still true today when I’m creating work I’m completely absorbed in the process.
viii. Show, podcasts, books that I’m into right now:
My daughter and I are hooked on Grey’s Anatomy; it has so many season’s it never runs out, we joke that it’s our alternate reality. When I’m on my own I like to read art books or artists’ biographies. My favourite podcast right now is Talk Art, although, I have a secret love of Oprah’s podcast.
ix. Training that has helped me in this career:
I have gone to university, an art college, apprenticed and done a residency in France although, I have learned the most by just making work. when I say this I mean making lots of work, and I often break it until I get exactly what I want. Making terrible work and mistakes have been my best teachers. I believe in practising sculpting much like a musician practises their chords. I have a belief that every time I touch clay my work gets a little better.
x. A common trap that can hurt people in this career:
Making work that is trying to please others. I find that when artists do this they burn out pretty quickly, and question why they are doing what they do more often.
xi. Some proud career moments:
Some proud career moments are when my daughter compliments my work. Others have been when I was accepted to represent Canada at a residency in France, in a village where Picasso learned to work with clay. Another was getting representation in London, England and another more recently, being picked up in New York by Ivy Brown Gallery. Ivy has a great eye and has chosen a group of artists that are exceptional at communicating through their art, I feel honoured to be alongside them. ivybrowngallery.org
xii. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you:
Make sure you HAVE to create because you will ask yourself throughout your art career why you do what you are doing. There are so many ups and downs that you have to be resilient or at least become resilient in the process. Always follow your inner knowing what to make and chose your own path for both the business and creating. Believe that evolving and making the best work you can is the most important thing. Also, it really helps to believe that making your work is contributing in some way, that it’s not just for selfish reasons.
xiii. A professional goal I have for the future:
To get a bigger studio. I have a tiny studio on the top of a building called the “Mergatroid” building which is filled with artist studios. I don’t think I’ll ever leave there, I’ll probably be hunched over the clay when I’m 90 years old although, I would like to get another space for an office and to display work.