It isn’t every day that a nationally celebrated potter picks up shop and moves across the country. Yet Diane Sullivan did just that when she relocated Arabesque Pottery, her thriving arts studio, from Calgary, Alberta to Williamsburg in South Dundas.
“I was flipping through MLS listings and stumbled upon this perfect little building,” Sullivan explains. “I went to see the place and it was in better condition than the pictures online, and it was cheap! I knew right away that this was where I wanted to be.”
It’s been a long journey home for Sullivan. Born and raised in Ottawa, she has lived in North American cities from coast to coast and has travelled as far as China to develop her signature style. “Living in China on a self-directed residency, I rediscovered the human form, something that interested me in graduate school. China offered me the opportunity to reinvent myself.”
Granted Williamsburg doesn’t boast the same level of anonymity as Jingdezhen, China, but the little village in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry offers everything that a working artist needs. “This is a perfect location,” says Sullivan. “I can be in Montreal in 90 minutes and Ottawa in less than an hour. Toronto is only three and a half hours away. These are huge markets for me.”
Gay Hamilton, Executive Director of the SD&G Community Futures Development Corporation, echoes Sullivan’s sentiment. “SD&G is home to many talented artists and creative entrepreneurs,” she says. “According to information from the Ontario East Economic Development Commission the creative sector is a key factor in regional economic prosperity. This is why we are working with our community partners to learn more about how the creative class lives and works in Cornwall and SD&G.”
In fact, South Dundas is already exerting an influence on Sullivan’s creative sensibilities. “I’m thinking about birds,” she says, in reference to the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary, which features over 8 kilometers of hiking trails and excellent opportunities to view close to 200 species of waterfowl, raptors, passerines and other birds. “Pottery is this meditative thing,” she says. “Clay pulls you in. It takes peace and quiet. I have that here.”
At the same time, Sullivan is quick to point out the small town charm. “Any time I feel like a conversation all I have to do is step outside and shovel the sidewalk or tend the flowers and people stop by to chat.”
To learn more about Diane Sullivan and to view her work visit www.dianesullivan.ca