One thing you notice when you see and hold a Gordon Hutchens pot is its technical excellence. Every piece of his pottery I have held amazes me in its form and balance. The glazes he concocts and their application are somehow immediately recognizable as his alone.
Gordon Hutchens originally hails from the U.S. where he obtained his B.F.A. with Honors in ceramics at the University of Illinois but has been a fixture in the B.C. pottery scene for nearly fifty years. He established his pottery on the north end of Denman Island in British Columbia where he has lived and worked since.
Mr. Hutchens formulates and blends all his own clay bodies using many different clays from across North America as well as clay from his own property. I’ve heard him refer to his glaze work as alchemy and the range and results of what he has created over time with experimentation certainly fits this description.
Equally adept in various in various methods, he creates pieces in raku, salt glaze stoneware, reduction fired earthenware, and a line of crystalline glazed porcelain (shown below) - a complicated technique that emulates the natural formation of crystals in rock cooling deep in the earth - that took him years to perfect.
Hutchens designed and built an Anagama woodfiring kiln - the fourth Tozan kiln in the world -under the guidance of Dr. Yukio Yamamoto between August 1996 and April 1998. Made from 3000 firebricks, the kiln holds hundreds of pottery pieces, burns for three days straight—using five cords of wood that the potters hand-feed in shifts—and reaches up to 2350°F (1300°C).
Taking inspiration from the natural world around him and inspired by the famous Edo period wood-block prints of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, my favourite works by Gordon have to be his “big wave” vases. Evoking the turbulent beauty of foam-crested waves rolling across stormy seas, these pieces are magnificent.
Mr. Hutchens also generously shares his knowledge throughout British Columbia, across Canada and internationally through classes, workshops and exhibitions. Since 1999 he has taught ceramics at North Island College, School of Fine Art and Design.
In 2019 Gordon Hutchens was bestowed a BC Achievement Foundation Award of Distinction in Applied Art and Design. He has exhibited across Canada, from Halifax, Montreal and Toronto to Vancouver & Victoria. He has had over 25 one-man shows and over 70 group exhibitions across Canada and the U.S.A., with three major exhibitions in Japan.
His work is displayed in permanent collections such as the Bronfman family’s Claridge Collection, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Burlington Art Centre, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Studio Pottery Canada
Pottery enthusiast learning about the history of this Canadian art form and curating samples from the best in the field pre-1980.