Local Sand Inspires Work
By Pat Forrest
Thunder Bay’s Noël Keag says it’s no surprise that she became a potter. “I am a woman who walks with her head down,” she says. “I am always looking at the earth, the rocks, the pebbles, and the sand.” The owner of Stone Circle Pottery, Keag has collected what she calls her “geological treasures” while travelling around the world, including pebbles from the bottom of the pyramids and Blarney Castle, and sand from five different seas and numerous deserts.
The inspiration for her latest pottery creations, Mügs (pronounced “moog,” a nod to the umlaut above the “e” in her name), however, came from closer to home: every one of them contains sand from the beaches of Lake Superior. Keag says that the two Müg designs were inspired by the beauty of Northwestern Ontario and Lake Superior, as well as the desire to be true to herself. “I wanted to create something that speaks to who I am and what I love. These pieces convey a sense of warmth, of connection, and of home. These are my passions,” she says.
The “Giant” Müg is a swirl of bold greys, reflecting the majestic intensity of the rolling, wave-capped Lake Superior. The “Camp” Müg, on the other hand, is more subtle, with natural sand-coloured tones, evoking fun on the beach and relaxing while enjoying the view. When you can’t go to camp, she says, the camp can come to you by way of your Müg.
Since introducing the Müg, Keag has received requests from former Thunder Bay residents as well as from people who are seeking a connection to their cultural heritage, resulting in people sending her sand from around the world so she can create a Müg that tells their unique story.
“When I launched the Müg, I was overwhelmed by the hundreds of personal stories that individuals were sharing with me, allowing for a small glimpse into their lives. I am very grateful for these stories and the heartfelt connections they have created,” she says.
Much has been written about Keag’s work. Out of three quarters of a million candidates to be featured in the book 500 Teapots Volume 2, an international publication showcasing 500 potters worldwide, her “Arabian Nights” teapot was chosen to be displayed alongside many of her favourite artists. Keag’s greatest love, however, is teaching, and she offers pottery classes on a regular basis. Mark November 6 on your calendar for her Christmas ornament workshop at the Current River Community Centre.
Visit stonecirclepottery.square.site/the-mug to find your Müg.