The Godfrey Dean Gallery has a significant exhibition of Saskatchewan pottery in its main gallery space this month.
Curated by Heather Smith and on tour from the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery, the show is a significant retrospective of work of Folmer Hansen and David Ross, and their impact on Saskatchewan ceramics.
Yorkton is the first Canadian venue for the exhibition, which premiered at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.
“Hansen-Ross Pottery operated in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan from the mid 1950s to 2005. The Pottery was named after two artists, Danish-born Folmer Hansen (1930- ) and Winnipeg-born David Ross (1925-1974),” detailed material online from the Tokyo exhibition. “In this exhibition, are finely crafted modernist ceramics, including works which were prominently featured at the Montreal Expo 67 exhibition Canadian Fine Craft.”
While gaining fame for work done in Saskatchewan the potters were influenced by pottery in their native countries.
“While Hansen and Ross attended various schools and had different training, they were profoundly influenced by Scandinavian design and the work and philosophy of the English potter Bernard Leach (1887-1979). The ideas that Leach expressed through his association with the Japanese potter Shōji Hamada (1894-1978) - that the pottery should have integrity, be affordable, and accessible - resonated deeply with both Hansen and Ross,” stated the Tokyo information.
Exhibition curator Smith was at the reception. She explained when Hansen came to Canada, an ocean voyage costing $500 including bed and food on board, he landed in the Maritimes, and worked in pottery there for a time, before heading west to visit Ross whom he had met before.
More than six decades after arriving in Ft, Qu’Appelle for a visit Hansen is still a resident.
Smith said the Saskatchewan Arts Board (SAB) started a craft house in the town, and Ross and Hansen became residents, giving lessons, and doing their own pottery.
In 1960, the SAB decided to close Craft House. Hansen and Ross purchased the building and opened the Hansen-Ross Pottery in 1961. The two potters continued to teach through the Saskatchewan Summer School for the Arts, but by the end of the decade, they were teaching less to concentrate on making work to fill the their own sales shelves, explained Smith.
It was in the late 1960s the work of the pair began to gain major recognition.
Smith explained the Canada Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal hosted an important exhibition of Canadian craft, as well as fine art. Canadian Fine Crafts, curated by Moncrieff Williamson, indicated that Canadian craft was being taken seriously.
“Hansen-Ross Pottery had the largest number of works selected for this exhibition from any single ceramics studio,” she said Sunday, adding, five pieces of their work were included among the 50 pieces of pottery representing all regions of Canada.
Ross was killed in an automobile accident in 1974, but Hansen would remain active in pottery until the 1990s.
The exhibition features over sixty ceramic objects made by Folmer Hansen and David Ross. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essay contributions by Alan C. Elder, Curator, Canadian Crafts and Design, Canadian Museum of Civilization; Julia Krueger, PhD candidate, University of Western Ontario; and Heather Smith, Curatorial Director, Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery.