Northeastern Folk Art is a marriage of the east and west coasts, both in the figurative and literal sense. When they began making pottery and giftware, Mike Gillan and Erin McArthur brought together different ideas and designs. Mike, a chef by profession, has had a lifelong passion for carving and polishing stones and found ceramics to be a natural move. Erin, an artist by nature, gladly left the corporate world once an encore career making art became possible.
Raku is a favorite technique of the two, with its crackly, coppery sheen. Rooted in Japanese culture, Raku style firing came to North America in the early 1900s. Northeastern Folk Art’s raku pieces are made in a multi-step process using two different kilns: an electric kiln where dried pots have a first (bisque) firing, and then they’re decorated with glaze and fired out of doors in a propane kiln, made from a repurposed oil drum. Once the kiln reaches 950C, the pieces are removed and placed in a sawdust-filled lidded metal bin and allowed to cool. The flames, wood and smoke work their magic on the pieces, creating an incredible finish with flashes of crackly white, cobalt blue and lustrous copper.
The work is inspired by a love of the sea, happy summers at the shore with family and friends and the small joys of everyday. Their work is held in private and public collections around the world. Erin and Mike divide their time between St. John’s and Bell Island with occasional adventures further afield.