Bradley Keys is an artist long interested in what makes the earth work. He considers the rhythms of the landscape, the wind, and gravel under our feet, which he translates into ceramic vessels that encompass the greater scope. Known for his wonderful glazes that contribute to animated vessel forms, the works allow us to relate to prairie sloughs, grain fields, mountain reaches and alpine meadows.
When I was in the Yukon, I experienced being in a place where there were no other people for hundreds of kilometers. It had the possibility of being a place where no one had ever been.
In this increasingly crowded world, this was an intriguing concept that percolated in my mind.
We are now living in the Anthropocene era - a period in Earth’s history that is being dominated and shaped by mankind. Everywhere we go our experiences have been designed for us. Our wild spaces are largely designed and altered by us in a myriad of ways: it is hard to find an unaltered natural experience and when you do look up, you see a vapor trail from an airplane cutting a path across the sky.
My work has, for the past 20 years, explored my sense of time and place with the prairies and foothills being hugely influential. I have used visual cues from the environment around me to inform my design sense and artistic concepts: the grain elevator, as an example, is one component of a visual language that I developed to express my relationship with place and our shared history. Through the use of texture, color, and iconography, I developed a rich visual vocabulary to convey these concepts.
Now I am incorporating quintessential man-made structures into my vessels. Forms and patterns refer to steel beams and wooden trestle supports, which occasionally engulf earth and field patterns found on the vessels and bowls. The juxtaposition of rigid, industrial structures against sinuous, flowing vessels references my real world experience: a cascading stream flowing through a coulee underneath the intricate lacework of an iron railroad trestle bridge - contrasting features that work together to create a well-known scene. Much like our environment, these elements interplay in my pieces to create often-familiar yet intentionally ambiguous works.
1992-1994 Alberta College of Art and Design (BFA with Distinction).
1990-1992 Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
1985-1989 University of Calgary, B.Sc. in Zoology.
2012, Grounded, Willock and Sax Gallery, Banff
2010, As the Crow Flows, Willock and Sax Gallery, Banff
2008, iPot, Willock and Sax Gallery, Banff National Park
2005, Elevators of Alberta, Willock and Sax Gallery, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.
2001, Terra Sections, Willock and Sax Gallery, Waterton Lakes National Park
Selected Exhibitions Group:
2011, The Makings II, Willock and Sax Gallery, Banff
Clay 2010, Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Alberta Craft Council Travelling Exhibition
The Makings, Willock and Sax Gallery, Banff
2004, Clay Creates Culture, Alberta Potters' Association, VAAA Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta, Honourable Mention.
2003, Mugs and Jugs, Vessels of Libation, Alberta Craft Council Gallery, Edmonton
2002, Art vs Craft, The Great Debate, Alberta Craft Council Gallery, Edmonton
Bradley Keys Pots, Generations Gallery, Stony Plain, AB
2000, Artwalk 2000, Eclectibles, Calgary, AB.
Home on the Range, The Station Cultural Centre, Okotoks, AB.
Cover Stories, Alberta Craft Council Gallery, Edmonton, AB.
1999 Vanishing Icons, Provincial Museum, Edmonton, AB, travelling
Tea for the Taking, Alberta Craft Council Vault Gallery, Edmonton.
1998 Clay Invitational, West End Gallery, Victoria, B.C.
Clay, Spirits from the Earth, Alberta Craft Council Vault Gallery, Edmonton.
1997 Artwalk 97, Provenance Gallery, Calgary.
Quality Trademark Show, Alberta Craft Council, Edmonton
1996 Vessels in Celebration, APA 25th Anniversary Show, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, travelling.
1995 Treetop Art Walk, Invermere, B.C.
Half Dozen of the Other, Marion Nichol Gallery, Invitational ACA Alumni show, Calgary.
Made in Alberta, APA juried show, Karuna Gallery, Calgary.
1995 Earth Shines, Sunlife Plaza, Calgary.
Birthday Show, Provenance Gallery, Calgary.
FLUX, Ceramics Department Graduating Show, Art is Vital, Calgary.
ACA Graduating Show, Alberta College of Art.
1994 The Board of Governor's Award, Nominee; Louise McKinney Post Secondary Scholarship, Nominee; 1993 Louise McKinney Post Secondary Scholarship for Academic Excellence; Culpepper and Mile-Hi Ceramics Prize; Dr. J. C. Sproule Memorial Scholarship; 1985 Alexander Rutherford Scholarship;
2005, “Making Marks”, Robin Hopper, KP Books
“500 Cups”, Lark Publishing.
2004, “ Profiles, Alberta Craft, Culture in the Making," January
2000, “Contemporary Potters”, Rockport Publishing.
1999, “Where Magazine”, Rocky Mountain Edition, Summer 1999.
“Albertans”, Alberta Report, Feb. 1, 1999.
1998, The Best Of Pottery 2, Rockport Publishing, U.S.A
“Fete of Clay”, Legacy Magazine, Nov. to Jan. 1998.
1995, “Defining Design”, City Scope, March/April.
1993, “Throw and Altered”, Contact Magazine, by Bradley Keys, Autumn 1993, 94
Alberta Foundation for the Arts
University of Lethbridge
Private Collections: Canada, United States, Australia, Japan, UK
"Maybe when they're holding something, a mug or a little pot or something, to notice this couldn't have been made in a mold, it really can't be mass produced, which is kind of one of the things I try to go for." (Bradley Keys in "Ceramicist sees fundamental shifts in social interactions" by Dominique Carrier (Rocky Mountain Outlook, 28 August 2008.
Bradley in his studio, 2008.