Robin Hopper, ceramist, potter, teacher (born 1939 in Selsdon, Surrey, England). For over a half century, Robin Hopper has been one of Canada’s leading artists and advocates of functional clay. He is a master craftsman who expertly evokes Canada’s landscape through manipulating clay using the traditional techniques of agateware and mocha diffusion. Robin Hopper was the first recipient of the Saidye Bronfman Award in 1977. His work is in the collections of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Gardiner Museum, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and many other institutions.
Early Life, Education and Career
Hopper grew up in London, the youngest child of a large family. When he was a small child during the Blitz, he discovered craters of clay left by the bombing that would later have a profound effect on his geological interest in clay. Visits to the nearby Horniman Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the British Museum in London also introduced him to the world of pottery and ceramics.
Hopper studied painting, etching and printmaking at Croydon College in South London in 1955, turned to ceramics and lithography in 1956 and stage design between 1960 and 1965. After a stint in the theatre in London’s West End, he set up his own pottery in 1965 in Kintbury, Berkshire, England, and taught at a local art school. Following his older siblings, he immigrated to Canada with his first wife in 1968. He settled in Toronto where he taught ceramics at the Central Technical School and then moved to Barrie, establishing the ceramics and clay department at Georgian College in 1970. In 1973, he gave up teaching to work as a production potter. Hopper moved to Victoria in 1977 and founded 'Chosin Pottery. He has authored popular instructional books and videos on ceramics, illustrating a wide variety of throwing and glazing techniques. In 1984 he founded, with his second wife, the potter Judi Dyelle, the annual pottery fair Fired Up! Contemporary Works in Clay. The following year, he co-founded with several other artists the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts.
Hopper enhanced the English techniques of mocha diffusion and agateware with a Canadian sensibility, transforming functional ceramics into clay canvases to evoke the striations of the Canadian Shield or the mountainous lakes of the North.