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). From that time until 2010, he was head of the ceramics department at Sheridan College School of Craft and Design in Oakville, Ontario.
For over 40 years Bruce has inspired students and the entire field of ceramics in Canada. His work is 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, was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art (RCA), the International Academy of Ceramics and he was a Saidye Bronfman Award Finalist in 2000.
Since retiring from Sheridan College, Bruce has built a rural pottery studio north of Toronto where he continues to explore ideas in clay, remaining true to the principles of pottery making and the history of ceramics. But he interprets things in his own unique ways, having developed a distinctive aesthetic sense and techniques based on the thrown form with its myriad possibilities for reinterpretation.
Bruce is currently working with stoneware clays and high-fired glazes. His pots are carefully planned and constructed from thrown sections, allowing for the expressive articulation of form. He applies surface pattern and texture through tooling and rolling with carved roulettes. Pieces are fired using several kiln types: reduction gas, soda or wood-fired kiln, each of which achieves very different atmospheric effects.
“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 people’s 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.” – B.Cochrane