Born in Vancouver, Bruce Cochrane was introduced to clay at John Abbott College in Montreal. He continued his studies under Walter Ostrom at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (BFA, 1976) and the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University (MFA, 1978). Until 2010, he taught ceramics at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario.
For over 40 years Bruce has inspired students and the entire field of ceramics in Canada. Indeed his influence extends beyond Canadian borders, having work represented in such important collections as the George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art (Toronto), the Canadian Museum of History (Ottawa), Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute (Jingdezhen, China), and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, England). He has participated in over 300 invitational solo and group exhibitions, and given 90+ workshops and lectures in Canada, the U.S.A., China, Korea and Taiwan.
Cochrane has received the John Mather Award for lifetime achievement in supporting Ontario Craft, he was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art and the International Academy of Ceramics and he was a 2000 Saidye Bronfman Award Finalist.
In his studio practice, Bruce has been true to the principles of pottery making and mindful of the history of ceramics. But he has interpreted things in his own unique ways, developing a distinctive aesthetic sense and techniques based on the thrown form with its myriad possibilities for reinterpretation.
Since retiring as Head of Ceramics at Sheridan College in 2010, Bruce has built a rural pottery studio north of Toronto where he continues to explore new ideas.
“After 40 years of working in clay, utility continues to serve as the foundation for my ideas. The pots I make, no matter how simple or complex, are meant to be experienced on a physical and contemplative level. The way an object carries, lifts, cradles, pours and contains are properties which I strive to make engaging for the user, offering more than just convenience. Pottery has the potential to affect peoples lives in a very real way. The challenge is to go beyond the mundane and purely technical solutions which only compete with a vast industrial market. The pottery I find most compelling in terms of its vitality and its reflection of the maker are those who reach back into the traditions of vessel making not simply in reproduction but rather how these historical models are reinterpreted and revitalized to have more relevance to contemporary society.
My current work is made with stoneware clay and gas fired in a reduction kiln or a soda or wood fired atmosphere. I am also working with similar forms in earthenware with terra sigillata in a reducing atmosphere. The pots are constructed from thrown sections that allow for greater articulation of form and facilitates the application of pattern and texture through the use of carved roulettes.”