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BSA Friends Greece lecture

Christine Willis, “50 years a Potter”

Event description: My Story: In the past year, I have been working with a group of Archaeologist and PhD students researching the different clays in the Anthemounta River Valley on the outskirts of Thessaloniki. Most of these archaeologist have been working on the site of Toumba located in the heart of the city. We have been using local clays to re-create some of the ancient pots and also firing them as they would have been fired during the Bronze Age. I’d like to share my personal story of how I became a potter and also some of the results of our collaboration with the BSA.

Bio: Christine is a third generation American born and raised in Thessaloniki Greece. Her grandfather came to Greece from Rochester, New York in 1925 to start the YMCA in Thessaloniki. Her father, Bruce Lansdale was the Director of the American Farm School in Thessaloniki from 1955 to 1990 when he retired. At the age of 16, Christine went to the island of Siphnos with her classmates from high school and had her first contact with a local Potter, Vasilis Loukianos, in the small hamlet of Pharos. She fell in love with clay. She continued her studies at the University of California in Santa Cruz, where she graduated with a degree in Ceramics. Upon graduating, she bought a bicycle in London, and three months later arrived in Greece. In 1981 she returned to the American Farm School, where she built her own studio and began her teaching practice. Her first teaching job was in a Ceramics school run by EOMMEX in Thessaloniki. From a young age, she visited almost all the museums in Greece. These museum pieces were an important source of inspiration for her work. Much of her work is fired in an outdoor kiln, with sawdust and manure, and then polished with a special wax. The results of this technique are unique and unpredictable. She also creates ceramic pieces engraved with motifs of the Byzantine period which are decorated using sgraffito and different colored slips. The way she handles design and color makes each piece unique. Since 2020, Christine has been joined by her daughter, Annie, and her son, Bruce, and together they have created Willis Ceramics, and have created many functional pieces for restaurants and hotels. Very recently, she has joined forces with a group of archaeologists from Aristotle University of Thessaloníki and the British School in Athens, and has been doing research on various local clays and creating copies of pieces from the Bronze Age found in Toumba, Thessaloniki. Christine’s studio is located in the small village of Lakkia just 20 minutes from the center of Thessaloniki.

6pm (GR) in-person only

Please register here for in-person attendance:

BSA Friends' Lecture
When: 22 May @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EEST
Where: British School at Athens, Upper House – Athens – 52 Souedias Street