Monday, 29 September 2014

Destination Marketing, an evening at The Dunes

The Dunes is noted both for its stunning gardens and
location overlooking the sand dunes of PEI.
Last night I had a memorable dinner at The Dunes with forty of my closest friends.  Ok, not literally.  We were a dinner party of forty from the Canadian Craft Federation conference but I've known most these folks since the 1980s, so there is some legitimate intimacy there.

We were touring studios on the island of red sand and then concluding our evening at The Dunes, which is a studio, gallery and restaurant operated by Peter Jansons and his partner.  I was genuinely surprised when Peter still recognized me with an exuberant, "It's Gloria Hickey!"  Arms flung wide.  That's Peter to a T.  Drama.  Flair.  Style.  I had discovered the man when he was still "Peter the potter".

The field of Canadian ceramics can be very competitive and it was going to take a lot of talent and luck to push the likes of Peter Powning off the "Peter the potter" pedestal.  Hands on his hips he exclaimed, "Where's that writer?"  I had disappeared to explore the gallery offerings.  Eclectic, multi-ethnic in flavour and some surprisingly large pieces.  I waved to him from a distance.  The place is that big.  Peter cajoles, "well you must have done something right (did I hear that correctly?) because look at me now."  Nobody would dispute that, the man is a success story.  He can afford gardeners.

 I've always thought Peter's real talent was being able to dream big and having the passion to persuade others.  I never saw him like other potters who were more about materials and process.  Clay, the wheel, or the extruder and hand building.  His work was about design and sensibility.  And his whole establishment today exudes that quality.

Take for example, the restaurant.  It started out as a cafe that was supposed to be serving sandwiches to tourists and it just kept growing and getting better.  And last night it was serving a full menu of mouth-watering meals to a crowd of 40.  Succulent maple salmon, quinoa with pomegranite, and fresh garden lettuces in rainbow hues.  And that was just my main course.
Interior view of The Dunes.

Now busloads of tourists make the pilgrimage to The Dunes.  They shop, they eat, photographs are taken and memories made.  This is the future of craft–or at least one variety of it.  It is like the flip side of craftivism.  The alternative to the do-it-yourself movement.  In some ways, this is the best of consumerism, which is different from materialism or the philosophy that defines happiness as "he (or she) who has the most stuff".

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