Helen (Lehrer) Copeland (1914 - 2011) was part of the first wave of potters that arose in Toronto in the late 1930s and early1940s. She began her career taking classes at Central Technical School before going on to study at a summer school session at Alfred University in New York. Her education was typical for the times – part classes and part workshops from visiting artists.
Along with being a potter, Helen was active as an organizer in the clay community. She was instrumental in setting up the Canadian Guild of Potters Shop at 100 Avenue Road, Toronto, in 1962. She served as President of the Canadian Guild of Potters from 1963-65. For many years, the Guild hosted workshops by visiting artists, including Val Cushing, Daniel Rhodes, Don Reitz and Tatsuzo Shimaoka. Later, Helen served as a director and exhibition chairperson of the Ontario Craft Foundation.
Helen exhibited her work both nationally and internationally. She won Silver Medals at the 2nd International Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics Ostend in 1959 and at the Ceramique International in Prague in 1962. A number of her pieces are now in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, QC and the Burlington Art Centre.
Established by family and friends in memory of Toronto potter Helen Copeland, this award recognizes excellence in ceramics and is open to artists at all career levels. In reflection of Helen’s exceptional contributions to the community through her work as an organizer, preference will be given to those candidates who demonstrate a high level of involvement in the crafts community.
The Craft Awards program is able to take place on an annual basis through the valued support of many generous donors and sponsors. Our thanks go to the following organizations, businesses and individuals: the Craft Ontario Volunteer Committee, The Pottery Supply House, Tuckers Pottery Supplies Ltd., FUSION: the Ontario Clay and Glass Association, Lacy West Supplies. Ltd., as well as members and friends of the Mather, Farndale, Copeland, Walker, Gregor, Yung, McPherson, Cochrane, and Diamond Butts families.
Images: Helen Copeland featured in Clay Products News, July 1963. Photo credit: Studio Ceramics in Canada 1920-2005, Gail Crawford, Goose Lane Editions in association with The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, 2005, pg.122. Side Bottom: Helen Copeland, Freeform Earthenware Vase, Photo credit: A Fine Line - Studio Crafts in Ontario from 1930 to the Present Gail Crawford, Dundurn Press, Toronto. 1998. pg 105.