By Laura Goldstein
If you grew up loving Beatrix Potter’s watercolour illustrations, reading The Chronicles of Narnia or the beloved owls in Harry Potter books and films, Russell Hackney Ceramics will evoke the same joy in nature’s simplicity.
A third- generation ceramicist from Stoke-on-Trent England, Hackney immigrated to Bowen Island, British Columbia with his wife in 2002. He applies his specialty of delightful flora & fauna embossments to his ceramic vases, canisters, cookie jars and lanterns with meticulous detail, capturing each creature with subtle humour without looking cartoonish. His unique, hand-made small production pieces can be found in the Pop-Up Shop at SwitzerCultCreative 1725 West 3rdAvenue, Vancouver and online at Oden Gallery.
“At 16, I apprenticed with my father, a Master Ceramicist, in the family business modelling 60-piece dinner services and tableware for large companies like Dudson in Stoke-on-Trent. Later in my 20s, in celebration of their 200th Anniversary, I modelled a replica of a 19th Century clock that was presented to HRH Queen Elizabeth when she visited their company,” reminisces Hackney from his Vancouver studio.
“My embossed pieces in the Fraternity of Antler, Beak and Claw are represented by the deer who are so elegant and remain in the shadows; the owl is the watcher of the forest and the bear is the warrior,” he explains. Hackney often depicts the creatures wearing crowns on his ceramics, (the bear also wears a chef’s hat, very apropos on the Cookie Jar, safeguarding its contents.)
Bees and butterflies, hares and chaffinches frolic on churns, vases and vessels, in pale shades of eggshell, pink, butter yellow and robin’s egg blue. Turn the porcelain and several of Hackney’s ceramics are lovingly embossed with poetry, making them the perfect anniversary or house-warming gifts.
“If all art is in some way a reaction, then the pursuit of beauty is my reaction to the world around me,” says Hackney. “Where nature is at its most memorable, I draw inspiration from it.”