Gerri Frager learned that lesson years ago after she began working at the IWK in 1995. "I started full time as Medical Director of Pediatric Palliative Care Service,” Frager told the Cooperator in a recent interview. “For quite a time I was the only physician doing Pediatric Palliative Care in the Maritimes."
Frager published dozens of articles in medical journals. And she was director of the Humanities-HEALS Program at Dalhousie University. (HEALS stands for Healing and Education through the Arts and Life Skills.) In 2013, Frager was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her pioneering work in palliative care for children.
"I was writing poetry, mostly as a stress reliever,” Frager said. “Not that I didn't love my work, but I really needed some kind of space to breathe. In 2008, there was a wonderful cooperative called Turnstile Pottery, just down the street from me in Halifax. I thought, ‘I've always loved pottery, it's time that I go and try it.’ Afterwards I just felt a sense of peacefulness."
Frager was first introduced to raku, a technique for firing pottery invented in 16th century Japan, through a Nova Scotia Potters Guild member. Frager fell in love with raku. “Since 2008, I've taken workshops wherever I can."
When Frager retired to Spry Bay in 2014, she built an outdoor raku kiln with her husband. "With raku, you have to fire it quickly, then you take it out when it is glowing red hot with gloves and tongs. You put it in a bin with combustibles like newspaper, seaweed, and leaves, and the whole thing goes up in fire. Anywhere there's not glaze, there is black smoke and carbon deposit. It's great for people who don't like delayed gratification because within half an hour you get to see your piece."
Frager also likes doing functional pieces embossed with impressions of leaves and flowers. "Nature has always been a source of comfort to me. I have a lupin platter in the kitchen. There's no lupin out now but I get to see them all year round on the platter. I like the fact that you can use it and see the natural world every day."
Sober Island Brewing Company in Sheet Harbour commissioned Frager to make fifty steins. "I