The Bronfman Collection 
Virtual Gallery

Masters of the Crafts

Robin Hopper — Potter

About the craftsperson

Robin Hopper
"Robin Hopper has been prolific in his production of ceramics — both functional wares and one-of-a-kind pieces and uncompromising in the high standards he sets for himself. Hopper's relationship to the land combines the approach of the painter and the ceramist. Robin Hopper, the teacher, author and ceramic artist of international acclaim, is above all a knowledgeable, lively, generous individual. Through Robin's work one sees his consistent interest in civilizations past and cultures present. The many ideas derived from his travels, his curiosity, his scientific understanding, and his ongoing experimentation and exploration have resulted in unique colours and glazes and in interesting combinations of form and design."

Patricia E. Bovey
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Robin Hopper feels that he acquired little technical knowledge of ceramics at art college in England, where he grew up. However, he did gain a rich historical appreciation of European, classical, and Oriental aesthetics. Beyond this formal training, Hopper was influenced by three prominent British potters. William Staite Murray and Hans Coper were among the first British potters of this century to use modem studio pottery as a personal medium of expression. Bernard Leach, who was born in China, brought the styles and techniques of Oriental functional pottery to the Western world.

These were the influences Hopper brought to bear in his teaching and in his studio after emigrating to Canada in 1968. Hopper experimented with the medium, seeking a more scientific understanding of his craft and rediscovering ancient techniques of pottery manufacture. He manipulated different-coloured clays to recreate the seventh-century Chinese method of making agateware, and moulded contrasting clays over rigid forms to reflect the eighteenth century Japanese technique of "neriage".

He altered the chemistry of ceramic glazes and colours, and applied multiple glazes onto wheel thrown pottery; Later, he was drawn to the ceramic accomplishments of ancient Mediterranean cultures.
Passing on the results of this research to his students, apprentices and interested professionals, Hopper has demonstrated tremendous skill and energy as communicator. As a teacher, he emphasizes the technical aspects of ceramics to his students rather than its aesthetics, which he feels can be developed independently of scientific knowledge.

In his books, Hopper passes on what he has learned about ceramic glazes and colour, pottery forms, and the history of ceramics. He has juried numerous exhibitions, and has conducted workshops and given lectures at symposia in Canada, the United States, Japan, New Zealand and Great Britain. He has also served as a director, founding member or board representative on several craft councils, and continues teaching at the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts, which he co-founded in 1985.

CMC 86-116 - CD94-688-014
Landscape Plate, 1979
Porcelain, hand-built
Multiple glazes, trailed, poured and brushed;
glaze intagilio through wax resist
36 cm x 36 cm x 10 cm
CMC 86-116 (Bronfman)

CMC 86-117 - CD94-688-015
Basket Form, Classical Series, 1982
Porcelain, thrown and altered
Multiple glazes, sprayed and brushed
32 cm x 24 cm x 16 cm
CMC 86-117 (Bronfman)

Participating in all these activities has its drawbacks however, as Hopper is obliged to schedule time for the production of his own work within a full agenda of tours and lectures. Yet Hopper appears to thrive on this hectic pace, and, his technical mastery and ability to demystify the chemistry of ceramics, and his willingness over many years to share the results of his research have already influenced a generation of potters.

His dedicated enthusiasm and participation in a contemporary ceramic tradition continues to influence the ways in which potters produce both functional ware and one-of-a-kind exhibition pieces.

CMC 86-113, 86-114, 86-115 - CD94-688-020
Shell Forms, 1974
Agate porcelain, thrown and altered
Left to right:
No. 2: 20 cm x 13 cm; CMC 86-114 (Bronfman)
No. 1: 26 cm x 14 cm; CMC 86-113 (Bronfman)
No. 5: 20 cm x 12 cm; CMC 86-115 (Bronfman)


Selected Works Contributions Continue