How an email sent by accident transformed a Winnipeg artist's life

The message wasn't meant for Winnipeg artist Bernard Ferguson but it ended up transforming his life and his work. 

Mistaken meditation centre email resulted in 'different perspective' on pottery, says Bernard Ferguson

Winnipeg artist Bernard Ferguson uses his meditation practice to help him at the potter's wheel. (Tyler Funk and Carmen Ponto)

Bernard Ferguson was perplexed. 

The email in his inbox described life at a working produce farm and a meditation and yoga centre in southern California.

The message, it turned out, wasn't actually meant for him — but the accidental email intrigued him.

A few inquiries and a few weeks later, Ferguson was making his own pilgrimage to the farm in Antelope Valley, north of  Los Angeles. 

That was 2005, but the farming and meditation sojourn still resonates today in the Winnipeg artist's work as a potter.

"I think it quieted my mind and gave me a better chance to be an observer and to pay more attention to my work — just have a different perspective," said Ferguson, 48. 

Winnipeg artist Bernard Ferguson marries his love of pottery with growing in this plant sconce he created. (Tyler Funk and Carmen Ponto )

Ferguson, with his Wind Horse Pottery brand, is the latest artist to be featured in the Manitoba Creates series, profiling artists in the province.

From his studio in Winnipeg's West End, Ferguson makes what he describes as utilitarian pieces, including bowls and plates, cups and mugs, and teapots. He also makes planters and is currently collaborating with a local shaving products company to produce shaving bowls, mugs and scuttles (containers for shaving lather).

Ferguson uses muted colours and earth tones for many of his pieces, which are also sold at the Pink Moon Handmade Boutique in Winnipeg's Exchange District.

"Mindfulness, meditation — I think it allows you to create work that is a little more quiet, a little more minimalist," Ferguson said.

His studio, located at Artlington Studios on Arlington Street, will be open May 25 and 26 for Doors Open Winnipeg. 

Bernard Ferguson says mindfulness and meditation let him create pottery that is 'a little more quiet, a little more minimalist.' 3:09

More from the Manitoba Creates series:


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