Pottery, 4.5 x 6 inches
“WHILE HE IS ONE OF CANADA’S MOST ACCOMPLISHED potters and ceramic sculptors, Walter Dexter is less well known among ceramists, artists and the public outside of this country. Walter Dexter discovered pottery at the Institute or, perhaps more accurately, clay and glaze were more or less thrust upon him by Luke Lindoe, one of his instructors. Unsatisfied with his progress in his second year of study and questioning his commercial art ambitions, Dexter considered withdrawing from school. Lindoe suggested that he try pottery. Dexter had already attended drawing and painting courses under Lindoe and he had taken Lindoe’s course in figure modeling. Apparently Lindoe had noticed that his student had a nascent empathy for clay. Dexter completed his studies in 1954 as a fine arts student majoring in ceramic art. Lindoe remained Dexter’s most influential artistic mentor for many years.
Beginning in 1956, Dexter spent about two years making utilitarian objects in Luke Lindoe s studio, Ceramic Arts, in Calgary. Following this period he also worked as a manager and designer for Medalta Ceramics in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Eventually he left in frustration because none of his designs was used. He continued to be influenced by his former instructor, then his employer; under Lindoe’s guidance he learned production throwing techniques and he absorbed the discipline of hours of exact production work. He learned to work as a craftsman and these habits gave him the foundation to become an artist. Though an employee rather than a collaborator, he was already a natural experimenter. With Lindoe s permission, he engaged in endless weekend experiments. As he describes it, he tried everything. Between about 1960 and 1974, Dexter taught pottery, mostly part-time, at several colleges and universities in Western Canada. Between 1963 and 1967 he operated his own studio in Kelowna, British Columbia where his practice continued its division into two paths, production pottery (ashtrays even) and experimentation. But with a family to support, he could not earn enough money as an independent potter. Dexter’s art can be loosely divided into about five broad themes, though only two of these conform to specific periods. Probably influenced by Luke Lindoe s spectrum of interests and in loose chronological order, Dexter has made functional objects, nonfunctional decorated plates, figurative sculptures, Raku ware and his current ‘bottle’ sculptures and their variants.” from