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Robin Hopper a potter for all seasons


Times Colonist - Robert Amos, April 16, 2017

Robin Hopper a potter for all seasons
Robin Hopper, seen here in his studio, was the first winner of the Bronfman Award for Excellence in Craft in 1977.
'Robin Hopper Ceramics: A Lifetime of Works, Ideas and Teachings'. Krause Publications

Robin Hopper died April 6, after living for two years with inoperable liver cancer. The burly, bearded artist made an enormous contribution to life around here.

With his wife, Judi Dyelle, they created a workshop and store, ’Chosin Pottery, an attractive destination on Metchosin Road (chosinpottery.ca). And some visitors were lucky enough to be invited through “the emperor’s gate” for a stroll in Hopper’s memorable one-hectare garden.

 

Hopper was the first winner of the Bronfman Award for Excellence in Craft in 1977, and has been honoured with many exhibitions of his pottery in prestigious galleries. His research and teaching live on in the many books he wrote over the years, books that became the definitive studio manuals for all aspects of pottery.

His pioneering work teaching glaze development around the world inspired him to initiate the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts in 1985, at first as a place for potters to undertake focused and extensive training.

In addition, Hopper wrote memoirs, loved to dress up in silly costumes, and last year created a wide-ranging and often hilarious “swan song” CD of some of the “greatest hits” of his life’s adventures. In our house, his pottery is in the kitchen cupboard, his books are on the shelf, and his enthusiasm for art and community lives on to inspire us — a life well-lived.

 

There might be no better way to celebrate Hopper’s inspiration than to register for the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts, which offers a huge range of courses at the Pearson College campus between June 24 and July 7. Now in its 32nd year, the school brings a complement of internationally renowned teachers, and attracts students — many of them professional artists — from all over the continent.

 

Among the classes that caught my attention are Linocuts in Clay, taught by Carol Rae; Special Effects Glazes taught by Gordon Hutchens; and Forms of Expression by Elaine Brewer-White.

Beyond pottery, you can study whittling with Rick Wiebe, life-drawing with Heather Spears, “monotype magic” with Chiarina Loggia and hand-hooking rugs with Michelle Sirois-Silver. For the entire curriculum, visit missa.ca or phone 250-391-2415.