Fonds SC516 - Robin Hopper fonds

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Robin Hopper fonds

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  • Multiple media

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Dates of creation area


  • 1965 - 2009 (Creation)
    Hopper, Robin

Physical description area

Physical description

3.72 m of textual records and other materials

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Robin Hopper, born on April 23, 1939 in Selsdon, England, was a ceramicist of both functional and decorative pottery, as well as an educator, writer, garden designer and historian, and arts activist.

Early life: The Second World War and the Battle of Britain provided the backdrop to Hopper’s early childhood in England. Due to chicken pox preventing his evacuation from London with the other children, Hopper and his mother stayed in the city, running the family grocery business for five years. Due to the constant bombing over the city, hot shrapnel and blue clay became the only toys available, inspiring Hopper to devote his life to making beautiful objects and spaces.

Education and career: From 1955 to 1961, he trained in pottery and ceramics at the Croydon College of Art In London before immigrating to Canada in 1968 with his first wife, Sue Hara. For two years, he taught at Central Technical School in Toronto, Ontario, as Head of the Ceramics Department. At this time, he also set up his own studio. In 1970, Hopper founded and headed the Ceramics and Glass Department at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario. He became a Canadian citizen in 1972. In the same year, he resigned to work on ceramics with a team of four apprentices. He moved to Victoria, B.C. in 1977; with his second wife, Judi Dyelle, he established ‘Chosin Pottery, located in Metchosin, a community west of Victoria. Hopper was a founding member and president emeritus of the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts (M.I.S.S.A.) from 1985 to 2009, specializing in glaze and colour development. He was also involved in the establishment of Fired Up!, an annual pottery show and sale that has continued since 1984. Throughout his career, he delivered workshops and lectures on ceramics and pottery nationally and internationally, and also worked on garden design.

Publications: Hopper’s publications include
• Making Marks: Discovering the Ceramic Surface (Krause Publications, 2004);
• The Ceramic Spectrum (1st edition, Chilton Book Co., 1984; 2nd edition, Krause Publications, 2001);
• Functional Pottery (1st edition, Chilton Book Co., 1986; 2nd edition, Krause Publications, 2000);
• Stayin’ Alive, Clay and Glazes for the Potter (Krause Publications, 2003); and
• Focus One: Contemporary Studio Ceramics; with Kathleen Campbell and Terrence Heath (Goose Lane Editions, 1997).

Awards and recognition: For his contributions to his craft, Hopper became the first recipient of the Saidye Bronfman Award, Canada’s most prestigious award for fine craft. He was also a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the Order of Canada; the latter awarded on November 18, 2016 and invested on March 15, 2017.

After fighting liver cancer for several years, Hopper died on April 6, 2017, age 77.

Custodial history

The fonds were in the custody of Robin Hopper before the University of Victoria received them from him and his wife, Judi Dyelle, in 2015.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of records relating to Hopper’s work and research as an artist; his teaching materials and outlines as an instructor for the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts (M.I.S.S.A.); and drafts and manuscripts as a writer. The fonds also includes his research notes, slides, press clippings, correspondence, lecture notes, awards, photographs, and glaze samples.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Hopper’s records arrived at UVic in labelled binders, manila envelopes, and boxes. Original order has been maintained at the file level. The structure of the fonds are based on archives sections that Hopper provided. The series have been arranged to reflect function, both physically and intellectually. File names have been retained from Hopper’s notes, edited only for consistency. Supplied titles are indicated with square brackets.

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  • English

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Finding aids

Hopper provided his own inventory list upon transferring his records to UVic Archives. His list detailed the file titles, number of binders, and envelopes in each box.

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No further accruals are expected.

Physical description

Includes ca. 5600 slides, 56 photographic prints, 53 VHS tapes, 26 wooden boards with glazes, 14 sketchbooks, 10 negatives, 2 DVDs, and 1 ceramic maquette.

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