North Island College instructor and master potter Gordon Hutchens will headline the Filberg Festival as the guest artist for the fourth time.
“You could call it my home show,” said the Denman Island potter, whose work is displayed around the world including the Bronfman family’s “Claridge Collection” and the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ontario.
Hutchens’ work is a must-see for festival regulars, where his crystalline glazes, specially-crafted Denman lustre, and raku, salt and wood-fired pieces regularly draw crowds and collectors. He is the only artist to be featured four times in the festival’s 33-year history. Hutchens has been previously featured in 1984, 1986, and again in 2003 with the Fired Up ceramic artists.
This year, as Filberg Festival’s featured artist, he returns with a wider section of work than ever before.
“It’s an opportunity to display a greater variety of work than I recall bringing in the past,” said Hutchens. “There will be larger size pieces and larger selection.”
The festival is one of western Canada’s largest juried outdoor arts shows and has a world-wide reputation for excellent artisan work.
Hutchens’ studio is nestled on nearby Denman Island, where he houses seven hand-crafted and manufactured kilns, including salt, gas-fired, electric kilns and a giant wood-fired anagama, designed and built with Japanese master builder Dr. Yukio Yamamoto.
Every March, Hutchens and a community of NIC students, potters, friends and family, fire up his high temperature Tozan-style anagama kiln.
“It’s a hungry fire-breathing dragon that eats five cords of wood over three days,” said Hutchens. “The ash follows the flame as it wends its way to the chimney up the hill, embellishing each piece of pottery with molten ash glaze as it passes.”
(To see a video of the anagama kiln in action, visit www.nic.bc.ca/finearts)
The only privately owned Tozan-style anagama in North America is available to NIC fine arts students in the winter term.
“Gordon’s course was a wonderful experience,” said student and potter Katy Fogg, who owns Living Earth pottery in the Comox Valley. “Though I had been potting for 14 years at the time of the course, I learned so much from his incredible depth of knowledge. He brings a lifetime of pottery to his students and is a gifted teacher as well as an extraordinary potter.”
NIC is celebrating Gordon’s work by holding a social media competition. To win a Gordon Hutchens tea bowl, festival goers must post a selfie with his work and the tags #mynic_finearts and #filbergfest at the event.
The Filberg Festival takes place July 31 to Aug. 3 at Filberg Park in Comox.