OLDS — This Thursday evening, Olds resident Renu Mathew will be back on TV in another reality competition.
This time, she’ll be competing in pottery/ceramics in The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down on CBC Gem.
In 2020, Mathew participated in the Food Network’s Great Chocolate Showdown, where she made it all the way to the finale.
A watch party has been organized for the first episode of The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down. It will be held Thursday, Feb. 8 at the TransCanada Theatre. Doors open at 5 p.m. The show hits the air at 6 p.m.
The show sees 10 amateur potters take on clever challenges to create beautiful pieces inspired by their personal lives and that showcase their skill and passion for clay.
Each episode will consist of two creative challenges which test the contestants’ skill and technique, with one ceramicist eliminated by the judges each week.
Jennifer Robertson, celebrated for her role as Jocelyn Schitt in CBC's comedy series Schitt's Creek, and currently starring in Ginny & Georgia, will host. A talented potter in his own right, Seth Rogen, award-winning actor, producer, director, and co-founder of Houseplant, will serve as a guest judge and an executive producer courtesy of Point Grey Pictures.
Mathew is an art and cosmetology teacher at École Olds High School.
Last spring, she saw a post on Instagram inviting people to apply for The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down.
Mathew was excited, because it’s based on a UK show of the same name, which she loves, so she applied to be one of its 10 contestants.
“I had used that show during COVID with my students,” she said during an interview with the Albertan.
“They had to watch episodes and answer questions based on some of the techniques that were used. And I also learned a lot from watching the show as well that I started using in my in my class.
“I just love the show and I love the feel and so it was pretty exciting to be able to apply for a show was going to be filmed in Canada with Canadians with the same premise.”
The show was filmed in Toronto during the summer and into the fall.
That was a long time, but Mathew said there’s good reason for that.
“The reason it's a long time is because you can't really rush clay,” she said.
“Like baking, you know, it only takes a few hours. Where ceramics, it takes a long time to make what you're making. The clay has to dry out.
“It has to be fired and it takes at least 24 hours for the firing to heat up and cool. And then it has to be glazed and then refired.
“So there's quite a process involved and so you can rush the filming, but only so much.”
Mathew said she didn’t think of the show as a competition per se.
“We were all very different,” she said. “Ceramics is very vast and there's a lot of special skills required in different areas.
“So I would say everyone there had a unique set of skills and I think that we were able to work together and collaborate and even help each other out to kind of be the best that we were.
“It didn't feel like a competition. It felt like we were there working on art and helping each other when we ran into problems, so it had a very different feel than being on the chocolate show.”
Mathew was asked whether she prefers what she did on the Great Chocolate Showdown or her work in the Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down.
“I would say they were both really a great time and I learned a lot being on both of them, but I think I really enjoyed the potteries show, just because I was able to express myself through my the work that I created, which is something that I've done my whole life,” she said.
“I've always been interested in art and sculpture. It's my first passion, so yeah, I definitely enjoyed the pottery show more because of that.”
Mathew said both shows involved sculpting, but they’re also very different “and chocolate tastes much better than clay.”
Mathew said she can make pottery on the wheel as well as sculpt.
“I teach it at the high school and I like it,” she said. “I just don't get the same creative motivation from for making functional pots.”
“I'm more of a hand-builder or sculptor than a thrower so I don't typically go on the pottery wheel. That's not my passion.”
CBC airs another show called Race against the Tide, during which contestants make sand sculptures. Mathew was asked if she plans to apply to compete on that show as well.
“I don't like getting sand in my clothes and in my shoes, but I mean, that is intriguing, for sure. I've never done sand sculpture,” she said.
“I'd have to I think go to the beach and practice before I would even say I would try out for that.
“But those are incredible as well. It's a different medium, but I would be willing to try.”
She was asked if she might try ice sculpting.
“I've never tried ice either, so that would be another interesting media to work with,” Mathew said.
“Definitely anything that I can build with my hands or make intrigues me.”