Sures, Jack (1934-)

Jack Sures, March 1969.
R.W. Christensen (Saskatchewan Arts Board) 68-1137-06

Jack Sures is one of Canada's premier ceramicists and art educators. His work includes everything from small vessels to large architectural commissions to graphic works on paper. His attention to surface detail is organic, rich, and mesmerizing. Sures was born in Brandon, Manitoba in 1934. He received a BFA from the University of Manitoba (1957) and an MA in painting and printmaking from Michigan State University (1959). It was during his graduate studies that he attended his only ceramic class. In 1960, he travelled to London, where he worked part-time at the Chelsea Pottery and at a ceramic cat factory. He travelled through Europe and the Middle East in 1961-62.

In 1962, Sures set up his own pottery studio in Winnipeg. Faced with no equipment, his “true ceramic education” began and his ingenuity enabled him to create a wheel out of a milk separator. It was at this studio that the first gas kiln in Manitoba was built. In 1965, he accepted the opportunity to set up the ceramics and printmaking programs at the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus. He came to Regina and built a gas kiln at the university as well as one in Moose Jaw. In the same year, he received a Canada Council Grant to work and study in Japan, which he did in 1966.

Sures became Chair of the Department of Visual Arts at the university in 1969, and switched his teaching focus to printmaking. During this time he continued to create ceramic pieces that included murals, and to exhibit across Canada and the United States. In 1972, he received a Senior Canada Council Grant to work in France. He lived and worked in Paris until 1973, when he was appointed by the United Nations Handcraft Development Program to set up a ceramics program in Grenada. His ingenuity once again came through when he engineered a kiln that would use nutmeg shells as its fuel. He returned to Regina in 1974.

In 1979, Sures completed a 2,900 square foot mural for the Sturdy-Stone Centre in Saskatoon. Later, he did a terrazzo floor for the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in Regina, and a mural for the Canadian Museum of Civilization's Group Visitors Entrance in Ottawa. In 1989, he was awarded the Grand Prize in design at “Mino ‘89,” an international ceramics competition held in Japan. Sures retired from teaching in 1998. He has been honoured for his teaching and contributions to society at large. In 1991 and 1992, he received Alumni Association Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and for Research. In 1991, he received the Order of Canada. He was elected to the International Academy of Ceramics, received the Canada 125 medal, and in 2003 he was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. Sures has also travelled widely, giving lectures, demonstrations, and workshops. He has served as a consultant to the Canada Council, Wascana Centre Authority (Regina), and the Banff Centre. His work is included in various collections such as the Pecs National Museum, Hungary, the MacKenzie Art Gallery, and the Saskatchewan Arts Board.

Julia Krueger