Mary Fox, Ceramic Artist

Words by Michelle Heslop. Portraits by Sean Sherstone.
Ceramics photography by Mary Fox.

Ladysmith potter, Mary Fox has been working at her craft full-time since the age of seventeen. Introduced to clay in Grade 8 at Central Junior High School, she was immediately hooked, and never looked back. Creating for over forty years, Fox is internationally recognized for both her timeless tableware and the classic forms with textured glazes that distinguish her decorative works.

A self-taught artist, Fox has developed her own distinctive glazes that decorate her work. Inspired by the classic lines of Greek vases, she uses advanced throwing techniques to create contemporary interpretations of this ancient form. Fox’s most recent thin-stemmed chalices are mounted in rock pedestals, collected from her favourite local beaches.


Her gallery is bursting with tableware in rich solid colours, along with multi-layered decorative vessels that will take your breath away. Fox is the first studio potter in North America to purchase a Blaauw kiln. This digital kiln has allowed her to experiment with low-fire reduction, a largely unexplored field in the temperature ranges she works in. Blaauws are the finest kilns available in the world, with cutting-edge technology that allows for very controlled experimenting. The kilns are computerized and extremely energy efficient, so different ways of firing can be tested and then duplicated, fitting for an explorer like Fox, who is discovering new and exciting glaze treatments from her kiln already.


In 2014, Fox started to work with blown glass in collaboration with glass artists, Lisa Samphire and Jay Macdonell. Bringing her potter’s imagination to this new medium has resulted in unique glass work unlike any you’ve seen before. Starting with interpreting chalice forms, the creative process has led the team in new directions, developing a Planetary Series of chalices mounted in rock, inspired by elements of planet earth. So far, the collection includes the Oceanic Series and Nebula Series, and the team is currently exploring a Desert and Volcanic Series.


When she’s not in her studio experimenting with her new kiln, Fox is working on her Legacy Project and a memoir, Mary Fox: My Life as a Potter. This coffee table book will be a visual feast of high-quality photographs of her finished works, and her life as a studio potter. Fast forward to the future, Fox plans to bequeath her studio and gallery to an artist residency program run by Mary Fox Pottery, a non-profit. It will be an opportunity for young artists to be immersed in a studio potter lifestyle for up to three years. Her hope is that the selected potters can develop their throwing skills, sell their work through the gallery, and save enough money to start their own pottery studios when their residency is over.

Mary Fox Studio is also part of Économusée®, Artisans at Work. Launched in Quebec and France, Économusée® creates maps of local artisan studios to guide international arts and cultural enthusiasts to the arts and crafts that regions have to offer. Welcoming visitors from all over the world, Fox’s studio and gallery in Ladysmith are open to the public. Her hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11-5. In Victoria, Mary Fox is represented by Winchester Galleries and The Gallery at Mattick’s Farm.