Neil and Anita are a husband and wife team located in beautiful Gold River, B.C. which is situated in a scenic valley between the Gold and Heber River. In August of 2003, they started North Island Clayworks which operated its studio and gallery in the village plaza where they produced functional and decorative pottery. Their ceramic art is often collaboration, utilizing the combination of Anita’s many years of wheel thrown experience and Neil’s design skills. In November of 2007 they relocated to their present location next to the Gold River in a newly renovated West Coast style building. It is not only home to their North Island Clayworks studio, but also Clayworks Cafe & Gallery which offers great breakfast, lunch, organic fair trade coffee, espresso, smoothies and baked goods. The cafe is also home to their new gallery which displays their pottery work as well as other local artists. Although they still produce their functional line of pottery, a majority of their work now is unique signature pieces which involve many hours of hand painting and carving designs which reflect the coast of Vancouver Island.
Neil Lawrence: Neil moved to Gold River with his family in 1968 shortly after the town had been established. Growing up in the coastal rainforest brought many adventures down back roads or boating down inlets often returning with a catch of fish. This time spent in such spectacular scenery helped to develop a love for drawing at an early age as well as an appreciation for the fish & wildlife in the area. In 1986 he pursued a visual arts diploma at Camosun College in Victoria, B.C. where he was introduced to many different mediums. This was the first exposure to the ceramic process, as well as an introduction into the world of photography which became the main focus for many years. It was also where he met a young lady named Anita who soon after became a partner in life and eventually a partner in business. Years later, they operated a home studio part time for 7 years near Nanaimo until the decision to move back to Gold River to pursue pottery full time. In 2006 the love of photography, drawing and pottery all came together as Neil began experimenting with the process of sgrafitto (etching through slips) on the pots using images from his photos of local scenery. He enjoys the evolution of the process as each new piece brings different challenges and the necessity to risk destroying work by trying something new.
Anita Lawrence: Anita grew up in Victoria and went to art school at Camosun College in 1987. With a background in Visual Arts, Anita went on to work with mental health clients in various capacities, one as an art therapy assistant. She soon discovered that this field was interesting but not a life career and focused more on teaching clay in a recreation setting. Soon motherhood became her focus and so did her home studio where her work developed and she started selling pieces through group shows and craft fairs. Although her work now is partnered with Neil’s in that they often work on the same pieces, she has her own style which is traditional yet finished with deep colors of cranberry, blue, purple and celadon green with white. She also throws the vessels which are finished with intricate carving in west coast images. Her work is available through their website and at the cafe/gallery and a few other galleries around Vancouver Island.