Debbie Curwen captures island colours and light in porcelain

St. Maarten has worked its magic on porcelain maker Debbie Curwen, a former Silicon Valley worker bee. Seeking new adventures, she delved into the art of pottery in California and found her “real” calling in porcelain, a medium not well explored these days because of its trying character.

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Curwen, a resident of St. Maarten, for more than five years, has an eclectic collection of teapots and cups that bespeaks of British background and her likening for tea. A glimpse into her porcelain work is on display at the Art Lover’s Exhibition Space in Porto Cupecoy.
Recently, she has also snagged a coveted space among the flamboyant trees and portraits of contemporary Plein Air Impressionist Roland Richardson in his Marigot gallery on Rue de la Republique 6. This accomplishment has encouraged Curwen to further extend what was supposed to be a short sabbatical from her high tech job Silicon Valley. The artist holds a BSc in Computer Science in addition to her studies at Saddleback College in California. 
“I would like to say I am between jobs, but it has been 15 years since leaving Silicon Valley on my sabbatical,” said Curwen who lives here with her husband. The couple had moved to the island to be closed to their son who worked on a yacht.
The soft every changing light of the island, its vibrant colours spanning the blues of the Caribbean Sea to the velvety green of the hilltops are inspiration for Curwen  who works daily in there Beacon Hill studio. Sitting at the potting wheel is calming and a challenge to tease and kneed the smooth white porcelain into shape.
“I love porcelain for its pure smooth, white qualities that allow me to capture the rich, bright colours of the Caribbean in my glazes,” she said.
One of her unique touches on her porcelain pieces is “the folded edge technique.” This gives Curwen’s piece a flare for the whimsy and a strong artistic spirit. A selection of her creations is on sale also at Escale de Iles Gallery on the Marigot Waterfront.
Curwen also had a distinction among porcelain makers. She has a teapot in a museum in Yi Xing, China where she attended the International Teapot Conference some seven years ago.
Each piece (starting from US $20 and up) created by Curwen captures the colours, light and the vibrancy of St. Maarten/St. Martin. Part of herself is moulded in every cup, vase or teapot. Her personal growth and legacy, however, is tracked in a five-foot tall Totem Pole she made and has mounted at her home. This pole charts the three stages of her life so far. “Someday I will add my life in the tropics to the Totem Pole,” Curwen said.
Curwen, who is also sculptor and printmaker, is a member of the creative movement Art Lovers Association. She will be one of the featured artists of the Art Lover’s Exhibition Space’s new show on Wednesday, July 18, starting at 6:30pm. Art enthusiasts and the public are encouraged to be part of the event to see the island’s talents and meet some of the artists. “Art Lovers is motivational and a great way to meet other artists. It is a sense of community.”
For more information about Curwen and her work, e-mail De****@cu****.net.