Robert Archambeau – 2014 Manitoba Arts Award of Distinction

Internationally acclaimed ceramic artist and potter, Robert Archambeau has been named the tenth recipient of the Manitoba Arts Council’s Manitoba Arts Award of Distinction. Archambeau was nominated by the Manitoba Craft Council for achieving the highest level of artistic excellence while building a monumental legacy in the field of ceramics on a provincial, national, and international level.

Robert Archambeau was born and grew up in Toledo, Ohio. Following 4 years in the Marines, he attended undergraduate school at Toledo University, the Toledo Museum of Art School and Bowling Green State University (Ohio BFA). He received his MFA degree from Alfred University in 1964. He taught at the Rhode Island School of Design 4 years before accepting a teaching position at The University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, where he headed the ceramics program until his retirement in 1991. A frequent guest artist at colleges and institutions, he has traveled extensively throughout the world. He has exhibited internationally, and his work is in several notable public and private collections.

In 2003, he was the recipient of Canada’s highest artistic honour, the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. A year later, he became Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba in recognition of his 23 years of teaching excellence in that institution. In recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the field of ceramics, he was awarded Honorary Member status at NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) in 2008. Archambeau maintains two studios, one in Bissett, Manitoba and one at the University of Manitoba.

Previous Award of Distinction recipients include: J. Roger Léveillé (2012), William Eakin (2009), Roland Mahé (2008), Dr. Robert Turner (2007), Aganetha Dyck (2006), Guy Maddin (2005), Grant Guy (2004), Robert Kroetsch (2003), and Leslee Silverman (2002).


David Kaye Gallery: Drawn to Ceramics (exhibition) February 27 – March 23, 2014
Winnipeg Art Gallery:,exhibition/128/drawn-and-fired-recent-vessels-by-robert-archambeau



“Through his many exhibitions, Archambeau has influenced generations of artists who currently use and expand on his firing techniques. Archambeau has also made a deep and lasting impression on the Manitoba arts community. Perhaps his most obvious contribution was in his 23 year teaching career in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Manitoba. He had a tremendous impact on innumerable students, many of whom have gone on to establish their own internationally celebrated artistic and teaching practices: Grace Nickel (RCA), Jordan Van Sewell, Kathryne Koop, Alan Lacovetsky, Carol Gouthrow, Ken Chernavitch, Barb Balfour, Robert Harrison, Valerie Metcalfe (RCA), and Alex Yeung, to name but a few. Manitoba boasts one of Canada’s strongest ceramics’ communities, a reputation that can be attributed, in no small part, to Archambeau’s teaching, presence and support. Stoneware Gallery, the longest running artist co-operative in Western Canada, established in 1978, includes five former Archambeau students among its members.”



“Robert Archambeau is a true artist, one whose passion and need to create supersedes most other needs. Now in his eightieth year, the drive is as urgent as ever and his production remains prolific and remarkable.”

Drawn and Fired: Recent Vessels (exhibition catalogue introduction)



“His name is synonymous with exceptional vessel making in North America and beyond, particularly in the field of wood-fired ceramics … Positioned in commercial settings or in group exhibitions next to the work of others, Archambeau’s pots stand out …His vessels “exert a presence … inhabit a space; they are quiet yet strong. They do not shout with vibrant colours, yet they are the works one returns to over and over again. Their weight is honest and refreshing. Their proportions are true. Their profiles resolved and perfect … His is a need, not a want, to create… the act of creation is as essential to him as breathing.”

Drawn and Fired: Recent Vessels (essay accompanying exhibition)



“Robert has always pushed the boundaries of his materials, not content to treat them like everyone else …He’s especially known for his bronze lidded jars and tea pots which formed an important part of his work form early on his career. He also uses unusual post-firing techniques, particularly the sandblasting of glaze surfaces, to achieve highly subtle and unique textures and colours … He continues to work regularly at the university as Professor Emeritus and mentors students by being the perfect artist role model. You might find him there any day of the week making pots or drawing at 6 pm or 2 am. He sets the bar very high. He broke through the stigma often associated with craft, bringing simple pottery into the realm of art. I would not be doing what I’m doing to do without Bob”.