Denman Island master potter, and long-time North Island College (NIC) instructor, Gordon Hutchens, is receiving recognition for his contribution to the cultural and economic fabric of B.C.
Hutchens has received a Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art and Design. He was presented with the 2019 Award of Distinction by the British Columbia Achievement Foundation (BCAF) at a ceremony at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre in Vancouver.
The award honours his career as a master potter and describes him as a producer of a “wide variety of work from sculptural to functional and utilizes an extremely broad range of techniques.” Hutchens’ pottery “allows everyday objects to transcend their practical nature with magic and beauty,” states the ceremony program.
An instructor at NIC since 1999, Hutchens has exhibited his work around the world.
He became intrigued by pottery at the age of 14 after visiting Japan where the art form and artists were highly revered. Throughout his career, he has experimented with and expanded the art form and shared his knowledge as an esteemed teacher in BC and Canada.
Sara Vipond, NIC’s fine arts department chair, said the school is fortunate to have him teaching ceramics courses.
“Sharing his years of research and experience with the students is a privilege for our program,” she said.
Hutchens’ work is well known for the diversity of his glazes and the strength and refinement of his forms. He uses different clays from all over North America, including a clay from his own property on Denman Island.
“It’s the one art form that involves so many facets,” said Hutchens.
Those facets include painting, colour theory, sculpture, chemistry, mineralogy and pyrometrics – how heat and ash interact with pottery. The kiln, he says, is where everything “weaves together through the magic of fire and heat.”
Hutchens’ work has been shown in 25 one-person shows and more than 70 group exhibitions. Despite all he has accomplished in his career, he was surprised when he received a phone call from BCAF telling him he would receive the award.
“It’s just a validation thing,” said Hutchens. “I guess people do notice what I have done all these years.”