For most of Tipton's artistic practice, she has made objects for daily use as well as objects intended primarily for the eye and mind. Both serve fulfilling aspects for her as an artist. The process of making each type of work reinforces and informs the making of the other.
Barbara Tipton is an expressive and innovative ceramic artist, who explores the aesthetic as well as technical elements of clay.
Tapping our memories, Barbara Tipton returns to familiar themes to investigate fundamental forms and expressions on and of cups and saucers.
The artist affirms that most of her “sculptural objects center around the idea of the cup and saucer. Recent works are part of an ongoing series of sculptural cups made on the wheel but not “thrown.” In many cases the clay was not wedged; instead, it was thrown in handfuls onto the centre of the wheel, beaten a little, then opened with a stick on a moving wheel. Large trimming tools removed enough clay to form a cup and saucer profile, and the “handle” was formed from part of the ‘cup’ body. These works originated as wheel-thrown forms, altered and assembled, but this evolved into drawing on the surface of paper clay slabs and forming them intuitively into three-dimensional shapes. Many of the works retain their visual identity as cup and saucer; others retain those origins only marginally. Whatever the outcome, my aim is not to be too specific, and I’m pleased when a certain amount of ambiguity creeps in.”
Barb Tipton maintains an ongoing production of functional ware. She mainly works with porcelain, much is handpainted or multilayered with decals. Her fascination and intense knowledge of ceramic history is augmented by her exploration of contemporary events or imagery found in medieval manuscripts and the ceramic industries of the UK and Europe.
Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Barbara received a BFA in Ceramics from Memphis College of Art where she studied under Thorne Edwards and Peter Sohngen. Further studies at The Ohio State University resulted in an MFA in Ceramics, and she stayed on in Columbus, building her studio practice and teaching at Denison University (Ohio), Ohio State University, and the Memphis Academy of Arts. In 1986 she moved to southern Alberta after marrying the British/Canadian ceramist John Chalke RCA (1940-2014). Since that time she has maintained a studio and taught at the University of Calgary, the Alberta College of Art + Design, University of Alberta Faculty of Extension and Red Deer College. Tipton was also active as an editor and production manager for such publications as Ceramics Monthly and Contact (Alberta Potter's Association). She retired from teaching in 2013.
A studio ceramist since 1974, Tipton has exhibited across the USA, Canada as well as internationally. Her work was included, most recently, in the 2017 Canadian Craft Biennial (Art Gallery of Burlington). In January 2010, her work was part of an exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver as part of the Cultural Olympiad activities for the 2010 Winter Olympics and in 2009 work was part of the “Unity and Diversity” exhibition at the 2009 Cheongju International Craft Biennale in Cheongju, South Korea. Tipton's ceramic pieces have received substantial recognition, with multiple inclusions in such publications as 500 Cups by Lark Publishing (2004), Soda, Clay and Fire by Gail Nichols (2006) and The Ceramic Spectrum by Robin Hopper (revised edition 2001). Her work Delft Extract was featured on the cover of the Clay 2010 catalogue (AFA, Alberta Craft Council).
Many public and corporate collections contain her work, including the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Canada Council Art Bank, Glenbow Museum, San Angelo Museum of Art (Texas), Harrison Museum of Art (Utah), Calgary Civic Art Collection, Standard Ceramic Supply (Pittsburgh), Charles Bronfman Corporate Collection (Montreal), Ohio State University, Ceramics Monthly Collection, Anatol Orient (London, UK), University of Alberta Permanent Collection (Edmonton), among many others. Her work is collected privately across Canada, the United States, Europe and England. She was awarded project grants in 2008 and 2003 from Alberta Foundation for the Arts Project Grant and Canada Council respectively, and in 2006 was nominated for an Alberta Craft Council Award of Excellence.
2018, New Work, Willock and Sax Gallery
2017, Canadian Craft Biennial, Burlington Art Gallery, Ontario (p56, accompanying catalogue)
2011, A Departure of Cups, Willock and Sax Gallery
2010, Cultural Olympiad Group Exhibition, Museum of Vancouver, BC
2009, Cup/Image, Willock and Sax Gallery, Banff, Alberta; Unity and Diversity, Cheongju International Craft biennale, Cheongju, South Korea
2008, New Work, solo exhibition, concurrent with John Chalke and Robert Sinclair, Willock and Sax Gallery, Banff National Park
2004, Bowls - Function/NonFunction, solo exhibition, Willock and Sax Gallery, Waterton Lakes National Park
2003, 21st Century Ceramics, Canzani Centre Gallery, Columbus College of Art and Design.
2001, Bitter Brew, group exhibit, George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, Toronto; A Matter of Clay, group invitational, Jonathan Bancroft-Snell Gallery, London, Ont.
2000, Ninth Biennale Nationale de Ceramique, juried competition, Trois-Rivieres, PQ; Voyage autour de la terre, tile invitational for the Ninth Biennale Nationale de Ceramique, Trois-Rivieres, PQ; Couplets: Duality in Clay, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1999, Tea for the Taking, group exhibition, Alberta Craft Council Gallery, Edmonton, AB; Summer Faculty Exhibition, Red Deer College, Red Deer, AB
1998, Keramos, group exhibition, The Works, Edmonton, AB; Sculpture: A Mixed Media Group, Harbinger Gallery, Waterloo, ON; Six Degrees of Separation, group exhibition, Alberta Foundation for the Arts Traveling Exhibition from the Permanent Collection at the Prairie Art Gallery, Grande Prairie, AB; Collecting Alberta Art: The Legacy, traveling exhibition celebrating 25 years of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Triangle Gallery, Calgary, AB; Twelfth San Angelo National Ceramic Competition, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, Texas
1997, Sidney Myer Fund International Ceramics Award, Shepparton Art Gallery, Shepparton, Australia; The Great Wall of China, juried competition, Medicine Hat Museum and Art Gallery, Medicine Hat, AB, work selected to travel 1997-98.
1996, Canadian Clay Currents, juried competition, Pyramid Art Center, Rochester, New York; 4th Annual Teapot Exhibition, invitational, Craft Alliance, St. Louis, Missouri; Passion 8 Potters, contemporary kitchenware, McMullen Gallery, Edmonton, AB; Journeys, group exhibition, The Nickle Arts Museum, Calgary, AB; Greek/Canadian Ceramics Exchange Exhibition, Banff Centre-Calgary Gallery, AB
1995, Clay in Canada: North by Northwest, Wyman Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota: traveling to the Nickle Arts Museum, Calgary and to The Works, Edmonton, AB; The World's Women On-Line!, internet installation, www.asu.edu/wwol that indexed over 800 images by women artists globallyl Summer Faculty Exhibition, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Group exhibition, Kathleen Laverty Gallery, Edmonton, AB; Made in Alberta, juried competition, Karuna Gallery, Calgary, AB (honorable mention)
1994, Ninth Annual San Angelo National Ceramic Competition, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, Texas; Altered Traditions: Contemporary Vessels, Barn Gallery, Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Containment: The Space Within, Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, Waterloo, ON; Group invitational, Hall/Barnett Gallery, New Orleans, Louisiana
1993, Chicago International New Art Forms Exhibition (through Prime Gallery), Chicago, USA; Teapots, Prime Gallery, Toronto, ON; Canadian Ceramics: Teapots, Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, New York; Al203.SiO2, ceramics faculty exhibition, Gallery 371, Alberta College of Art, Calgary, AB
1993, Underground, solo exhibition, Paul Kuhn Fine Arts, Calgary, AB; Fifth National Biennial of Ceramics, Trois Rivieres, PQ; 1992 International Invitational Exhibition of Ceramic Art, National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan; Chicago International New Art Forms Exhibition (through Prime Gallery), Chicago, USA; Canadian Clay, Design Arts Gallery, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA; A Treasury of Canadian Craft, Canadian Craft Museum, Vancouver; 25th Anniversary Exhibition - Just a Taste of the Claridge Collection, Saidye Bronfman Centre, Montreal, PQ; Choosing Clay, Triangle Gallery, Calgary, AB; Selected Works, Alberta Crafts Council, Nova Building, Edmonton, AB; Faculty Exhibition, Nickle Arts Museum, University of Calgary, AB
1991, Sculpture: The Language of a Material, Muttart Art Gallery, Calgary, AB; 1000 Miles Apart, Mendell Art Gallery, Saskatoon, SK; Chicago International New Art Forms Exhibition (through Prime Gallery), Chicago, USA; Faculty Exhibition, Alberta College of Art, Calgary, AB; Cups, juried exhibition, Muttart Art Gallery, Calgary, AB; then at The Works, Manulife Place, Edmonton, AB; Faculty Exhibition, Nickle Arts Museum, University of Calgary, AB
1990, NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts), juried exhibition, Taft Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio (then toured for two years); 1990 Ceramic Invitational, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; Material: Redefining the Working Field, The New Gallery, Calgary, AB; Fifth Annual Monarch Tile Ceramic Competition, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, Texas; Fourth National Biennial of Ceramics, Trois Rivieres, PQ; Constructions, New Alberta Art, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, AB; New Works, solo exhibition, Divino Cafe/Gallery (through Paul Kuhn Fine Arts), Calgary, AB; Faculty Exhibition, Nickle Arts Museum, University of Calgary, AB
1989, Fourth Annual Monarch Tile International Ceramic Competition, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, Texas (museum purchase); Teapots, Prime Canadian Crafts, Toronto, ON; Square Deal Squared, The New Gallery, Calgary, AB; Summer Exhibition, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Faculty Exhibition, Nickle Arts Museum, University of Calgary, AB
1988, Wall Works, invitational, Martha Schneider Gallery, Chicago, IL.; Platters, Galerie Barbara Silverberg, Montreal, PQ; Third National Biennial of Ceramics, Trois Rivieres, PQ; Three-person exhibition, Ring House Gallery, Edmonton, AB; Summer Show, Red Deer College, Red Deer, AB; Faculty Exhibition, Alberta College of Art Gallery, Calgary; Ceramic Art, dual exhibition, The Works, Edmonton Centre; The Ohio Connection, Ohio Designer Craftsmen Gallery, Columbus, OH
1987, Solo Exhibition, The Nickle Arts Museum, The University of Calgary; Second World Triennial Exhibition of Small Ceramics, (Honorable Mention), Zagreb; International Ceramic Symposium Exhibition, University of Aberystwyth, Wales; Ceramics '87, Culpepper Gallery, Calgary; Faculty Exhibition, The Nickle Arts Museum, University of Calgary; Arrowmont Faculty Exhibition, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
1986, National Clay Box Show, juried, A.R.T. Studio Gallery, Chicago, IL; Group Exhibition, Vincennes University, Vincennes, Indianna; A Tea Party, Jubilation Gallery, Newton Centre, Massachusetts; From Hand to Mouth, Ohio Designer Craftsmen Gallery, Columbus, OH
Barbara “feels that her wall forms refer to functional pottery and her functional pots give her ideas for her wall pieces”
Longchamps, Denis and Jonathan Smith. Canadian Craft Biennial. Burlington, ON: Art Gallery of Burlington, 2017, p.56.
Tourtillott, Suzanne J.E. ed. 500 Cups: Explorations Of Utility & Grace. New York: Lark Crafts, 2004.
Zakin, Richard. Ceramics. Ways of Creation. An Exploration of 36 Contemporary Ceramic Artists and Their Work. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 1999:241.