Elsewhere on my mind - By Tara Gilchrist

The truth is, Elsewhere has been on my mind every day since our departure over a month ago.  I’ve told anyone who will listen about Elsewhere’s huge impact on the inspiring community of Paonia and, in turn, on both my life and art.

On September 13th, the morning after I married Caitlin, I received a message that there was a last minute opening at Elsewhere for October.  The timing of the invitation could not have been more perfect.  We had already decided to road trip to Colorado as part of our honeymoon and visit a close friend in Paonia. However, we hadn’t figured out where we would stay or for how long.  Having access to a kiln and wheel meant we could afford a longer stay as I could make pieces for upcoming shows back at home in Canada. Within our first week of arrival, it was an easy decision to stay not just for the month of October, but November as well!  Our upstairs room with a cosy bedroom nook, claw foot bathtub and beautiful open space was the perfect lovers/artist quarters. The people and shared kitchen were warm, inviting and eclectic. Here was a space to make pots, do yoga, eat local healthy foods, explore new landscapes and connect with open hearted people.  Here was a place rich in everything most important to both of us in our new life together.

The lines are blurred between my art practice and every day life as I’ve always felt like my life is an ever evolving art work in progress.   I have built a studio and gallery over the past 8 years that centres itself around my pottery, yet there always seems to be a million things pulling me away from creative experimentation. At home surrounded by lakes and trees in the hamlet of Dorset, Ontario it often feels like there’s little time to just play with clay.  My experience of being a working artist is that very little time is actually spent with my hands in the clay and much more time is spent running the business.  As life becomes richer and fuller…I must make a greater effort in finding the time for creative experimentation.  Clay is my primary medium of choice and I know to continue to work with it and feel satisfied…I must never settle.  My approach to clay, as in life, is that enjoyment of the process takes top priority. Trusting that the more joy I can find in the process of making, the more satisfaction I find in the final product.  For this reason, I love to combine my passion for travel, connecting with loved ones and great food with my creating. Being surrounded by the unique style of the Elsewhere’s grounds, fellow artists and the local community was a perfect fit.

Living and working at Elsewhere gave me the opportunity to isolate some aspects of clay work that I’d been wanting to experiment with but haven’t felt I had the time. I purchased a new red clay body and a beautiful peacock blue glaze from just outside of Boulder and combined that with hand carved wooden stamps I’ve collected from travels to India.  I’d been wanting to experiment with new approaches to decoration by using the stamps and coloured glaze for several years but always felt like I didn’t want to risk the time in my production schedule. Here, I was able to produce a body of work that I loved making as much as the final product.  Bringing all this work home to my customers in time for holiday shopping has made it possible to fund the next adventure of living in Guatemala for the winter months. My only regret from this experience is not having spent more time getting to know local clay artists.

Paonia has left such a mark on our hearts that we are already scheming on when we can return.  My head is spinning with ideas of connecting with locals for group collaborations and firings. Until then, the open minded spirit of Paonia has a strong hold on us and we’re working on ways to infuse our northern hometown with all of our Elsewhere inspiration.

Thank you Elsewhere for dreaming so big in all you strive to create. I look forward to seeing how things have evolved when we return.

Big love to you all,                                                                                


Click here to follow Caitlin & Tara on Instagram   

and visit www.opencait.com & www.chetolah.ca

All photos taken by Tara & Caitlin