Karin Bach

Clay Artist


Published, EAC Communiqué, September 1990


These days Karin Bach’s mind is on the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, a unique site of bizarre animal life. At her studio, 480 James St., Salem, and in collaboration with potter Tim Isaac, she fashions tortoises and lizards, fish and sea creatures in the earthy textures of raku fired clay. Sales of these works will fund an anticipated spring trip to the Galapagos, where a world of inspiration will be explored, perceptually stored and later interpreted through Karin’s subtle and sure artistic vision. After three years of recent commercial work with extended commuting, Karin is once again a freelance, fulltime artist: “I decided commercial work wasn’t worth the trade-offs.”

Whether working in copper enamel, clay, or shaping her large terraced garden, Karin always seems to be related to the earth. Her artistic subjects, colours, and the ambience of her brick and pine studio reflect a close identification with nature. Sometimes, for fun, she piles stones into sculptural structures in the Irvine River: a playful form of contemplation. There is even something of the wood nymph in her personal style and smiling eyes. Karin was raised in urban Toronto. However, she perceived her real home to be the family cottage by a wooded lake in Haliburton, designed by her architect father. Through a soaring glass roof the northern lights, clouds, trees and stars could be seen from within the cottage. The indelible imprints of these elements are translated today into landscapes of simple form, expressed through the medium of flattened clay cut in odd interrelated shapes, glowingly glazed and mounted on wood.

Throughout public and high school, art was an important part of Karin’s development. It was a strong focus in the home, too. Her father being an architect and her mother a commercial artist, paints and crayons were always at hand for play and creation. At 18 she was earning her living through work in colour transparency, retouching and black and white photo assembly. She also attended art classes three or four nights a week at Central Tech. In 1979, Karin decided to try her luck as an independent artist and, after much searching, put an ad in the Toronto Star for a country house. Lewis Guzzy of Sticks and Stones, Fergus, responded immediately with a dossier of available houses in this area. Driving into Elora she found the atmosphere exciting, and the people on the street interesting. Karin bought her present house in Salem and maintained her creative freedom for seven years, before returning to the commercial world for three years in 1987. Each Christmas she has a show of recent works in her home. This August, celebrating her return to artistic freedom, Karin opened her living room and garden to the public as The Bach Gallery, inaugurated by a show with six area artisans entitled Bach Again with Friends.

The proposed spring trip to the Galapagos will provide a first hand knowledge of animal, bird, fish and reptile subjects suitable to Karin’s increasing interest in garden art. She is exploring techniques to make possible limited reproductions of sculptural clay pieces. The smoky finish of raku firing and the burnish of copper glaze will harmonize the sculptures with garden elements of grass, soil, and flowers. Karin has also had considerable success in snow sculpture, leading a group of Elora women to the United States International Snow Sculpture Competition for five consecutive years, and last winter taking first prize.

Karin’s art has been represented in shows at Reflections Gallery, The Bookshelf Café, Wellington County Museum, Peter and Nancy’s Pottery. Recent work can be seen at The Shop On Francis Lane.

by Beverley Cairns, September 1990

The smoky finish of raku firing and the burnish of copper glaze will harmonize the sculptures with garden elements of grass, soil, and flowers. 


UPDATE – 1997

Karin has moved to Albert, New Brunswick, where she has built a home and studio along with former Kitchener and Elora Clay Artist, Tim Isaacs. Inspired by a view over the Bay of Fundy, they have developed a garden to showcase creations in sculpture, stoneware tiles and bronzes.

In 1994, soon after establishing the New Brunswick studio, Karin won the Gail McManus Memorial Award for most promising newly juried member of the New Brunswick Craft Council (NBCC). The originality of her tortoises, tree frogs, manatees and gargoyles could not be missed.

Karin’s work can be seen in this area at Toucan Gallery, Elora; Gallery Quest, Elmira, and individual pieces can be found at the annual One Of A Kind Show in Toronto.

UPDATE – 2005

Karin is still living in Albert, New Brunswick, working in her studio along with former Kitchener/Elora clay artist Tim Isaac. She continues to explore clay sculpture and has recently returned to oil painting. Karin and her son Jacob, born September 1997, thoroughly enjoy the rugged natural beauty of the Fundy coast. There, with a wonderful view of the bay, they have developed a beautiful sculpture garden, open for travellers and naturalists, to
find respite.

If you’re passing through New Brunswick, look for Karin Bach’s work at Joie de Vivre, 5702 King Street. Riverside-Albert, New Brunswick, Canada. Karin’s work can be seen at www.joiedevivre.nb.ca/isaac&bach