Island Clayworks History

It’s a love story really, and who doesn’t like a good love story?

Neil and Anita met in art school back in the late 80’s and have been carving out a living together ever since.

When we first graduated from art school, we didn’t have the confidence or the experience to solely support ourselves on making art for a living.  We worked at different jobs that paid the bills and we moved around Vancouver Island and the Vancouver area, never really feeling settled but always pursuing art making. Eventually we moved back to Vancouver Island where Neil worked full time as a cable contractor and I as a Pottery Instructor as we saved for our first home.

Nothing made me happier at that time as setting up our first home and studio and having our first child.

I gained experience through teaching adults and children’s pottery lessons while practicing making pots myself.  Being a mother while finding time to be creative was always a challenge, and for Neil working full time and being a father was his focus.  Having energy and time to create took a backseat for him for a while.  Well, sometimes life throws you a curveball and we found ourselves having to decide to stay in our first house with then three children or look at a move and lifestyle change.  The situation presented an opportunity to move away further up the Island to Gold River where Neil grew up.

We found a space that we could partner together in a pottery shop and gallery and opened North Island Clayworks.  Our home in Gold River was much larger which suited us just fine as we had our fourth child on the way, See, I told you it was a love story!

Initially it was such an adjustment to go from a city to a small town but there are opportunities in small town living that you can’t compare to life in a city.  Walking became our main mode of transportation and we enjoyed having our kids come to the gallery on school lunch breaks.  

To shorten the timeline a little bit, a new business opportunity presented itself in 2007 and Neil and I opened a café, gallery and studio in a new building.  This business became Clayworks Café and Gallery, which we ran for 13 years before we sold it in 2020.  It was a lot of hard work, super fun and challenging, but I would not change that experience for anything.  Each stage of this journey has taught us something about ourselves, each other, our family, our faith, business, people and social media that you can only experience by “doing”.

Now we start a new chapter!  The kids have grown, and some have moved away and now Neil and I work as full-time potters, still in love.  The beginning goal 30 + years ago has finally come around.  With our newest venture, Island Clayworks we hope to fully invest our creative gifts into producing beautiful pottery that will be part of your story too.   We love what we do, and we hope that shows in every piece we make.

If you would like to see where we live, work and play, check out

Anita & Neil Lawrence