Jude GriebelMay 18, 2018
8 Unusual Secrets of MedaltaJuly 14, 2018
It only takes reading the first 2 paragraphs of Rachel Kruitbosch’s nostalgic recollection of her childhood spent exploring the Historic Clay District to tug at the ole’ heartstrings. There are so many generations that feel the connection to the dirt surrounding this place, stirring up forgotten memories of childhood’s past.
We are so proud of the work we do here so that people like Rachel and her son can experience all that this place has to offer.
My first memories of Medalta are so crisp in my mind, I can see it as clear as day. My best friend and I would race our bikes along the streets, playing card duct taped to the frame to make a rattling sound as we thundered towards the cliffs. The end point for the first leg of our tour was the top of Scholten Hill, and we would peer down and watch the activity at I-XL, wondering where the many multi-coloured hills of sediment had come from.
Down the hill we flew, under the bridges and through the paths until we were behind Medalta, where we would throw our bikes down and continue to explore on foot. Dodging the odd snake or two, we would sit near the old rail cars and delight at the glazed pottery that was found scattered around. If you were lucky, maybe an old paper or a half plate was found. We wove tales of lives past lived, workers sweating around hot kilns, and wares sent off to far-away lands to be enjoyed by people whose reality was so far removed from anything we had known. The site always had an air of mystery and wonder, the perfect fuel for the imagination of children. Many afternoons were spent sitting nearby, snacking on “provisions” we had brought for our trip, and just looking out and wondering about who had been there and where they had gone.
As an adult now, although much has changed both with myself and Medalta, the feelings stay the same. The opportunity to experience Medalta with my own son, who is now 8, has been such a blessing for our family. Many meals have been enjoyed in the courtyard during the Market, with beautiful music and a blue sky above you to set the mood. Although we have been through the museum many times, a new treasure is spotted or equipment previously overlooked is seen. She reveals her secrets to us little by little, although one could argue a lifetime could be spent there and you would still not know them all. We walk through kilns where countless pieces of pottery, each with its own intention and unique destination, was fired. We wander through rooms where clay was pressed and poured and create stories of workers long gone. We watch with anticipation as artists from across the globe share their gifts with us, and each make a case for our favourite piece of art in the Yuill Family Gallery.
When family or friends from out of town come to visit, Medalta is always our first stop. My son delights in giving the tour to everyone, and pointing out the special donkey with the red lips hidden among Tony Schlachter’s collection. A beautiful piece of pottery or a book from the gift shop is the perfect gift wherever you go, the only challenge being what to pick out of all the beautiful options.
My son has spent weeks at the Children’s Summer Programs over the pasts few years, digging for fossils, creating clay Sea Monsters and other figments of his imagination, learning about history, friendship, art, and the environment. A special highlight was visiting the studio of James Marshall and learning all about his process. At the end of a very full week he never hesitates to ask, “When am I coming back, Mom?” The answer is always very soon, because I can’t imagine a summer, or a childhood, without Medalta in it.