SMUS Artists Dig Into Clay

This Thursday, our ceramics and sculpture students took a trip to the garden, gallery and studio of world-renowned ceramic artists Judi Dyelle and Robin Hopper. The Grade 11 and 12 artists enjoyed a tour of the grounds and gallery, as well as learned much about the techniques used to create individual pieces.

The studio garden is itself a work of art. Divided into six distinct parts, the two-and-a-half acre property includes Japanese, English and Canadian styles. It also houses some unusual works, including a gazebo with a discarded satellite roof.

“There were lots of ceramic pieces and lots of installation pieces throughout the garden,” says instructor Corinna Zimmerman.

Ms. Dyelle showed the students her bisque-firing and glaze-firing kilns and explained the differences between the two, as well as how the pieces must be arranged inside. Inside the gallery, students saw the collections of the two artists, from the more functional work of Mr. Hopper to the porcelain creations of Ms. Dyelle.

“They explained their process and showed the students that different pieces may not look like they were made on a pottery wheel, but parts of them were,” says Ms. Zimmerman. The students were then challenged to point out which parts of which gallery pieces were made on a wheel.

The young artists also learned a bit of the science behind sculpture, as Ms. Dyelle showed them how to infuse clay with cobalt and the different techniques used to achieve different effects.

“I think the students were quite impressed,” says Ms. Zimmerman. “I know I was.”

Robin Hopper was the first recipient of the Bronfman Award and is the author of several books. Judi Dyelle represented Canada in the ceramic festival in Korea and received the Lieutenant-Governor’s Medal for Excellence in 1967.

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