Artist and educator Jack Sures honoured by Governor General for excellence in fine arts

By Costa Maragos Posted: April 4, 2018 3:00 p.m.

Jack Sures with Governor General Julie Payette. Sures was recipient of the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in Fine Crafts, presented to him at a ceremony at Rideau Hall, March 28.
Jack Sures with Governor General Julie Payette. Sures was recipient of the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in Fine Crafts, presented to him at a ceremony at Rideau Hall, March 28. Photo Courtesy of MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall

There is a practical side to Jack Sures, the U of R’s famed ceramics artist and Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance.

When Jack needed the appropriate attire in which to meet the Governor General, a visit to the U of R’s theatre costume department provided the solution.

“He got this fabulous idea when he needed to find a shirt for his tuxedo. He visited the theatre department and they provided him with shirt, bowtie, cufflinks, and even the shoes. It was so Jack,” laughs Cara Driscoll, Sures’ wife. “We are all so proud of him for all that he has done and continues to accomplish.”

Sures looked great in his borrowed suit as he received one of Canada’s highest honours for excellence in the arts.

Sures was the recipient of the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in the Fine Crafts, presented to him by Governor General Julie Payette, at a ceremony held at Rideau Hall on March 28.

Jack Sures Studio
Jack Sures continues to work in his Regina studio and at the University’s ceramics
studio. Photo from a film by Kyle Armstrong titled - Jack Sures on wisdom in the
creative process.
See video below.

Sures was one of eight artists honoured at the annual Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. The awards are administrated by the Canada Council for the Arts. The award includes a $25,000 prize and some of Sures’ work will be made a part of the permanent collection of the Canadian Museum of History.

Born in Brandon, Manitoba, Sures established a ceramic studio in Winnipeg where he was a teacher and artist, and with colleague Ron Burke, built Manitoba’s first gas kiln.

In 1965, he established the U of R’s ceramics program at the College Avenue Campus.

Since those humble beginnings, Sures has inspired countless students over two generations and continues to contribute at the U of R as a visiting artist.

“I want to congratulate Jack on being named recipient of this prestigious award,” says President Dr. Vianne Timmons. “He has done so much for our University and the visual arts throughout his career, and he continues to make us proud. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honour.”

Sures Pedestal
Pedestal Bowl, 2016, oxide on glazed porcelain. Saskatchewan Craft Council
collection. Photo by Vivian Orr.

Sures was nominated for the award by Julia Krueger, who was born and raised in Regina.

“Jack has known me since I was a child as my father regularly toured me and my siblings through the University’s art department where I was filled with wonder and awe,” says Krueger who is a PhD candidate in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Western Ontario.

Krueger interviewed Sures for her Master’s Thesis Prairie Pots and Beyond: An Examination of Saskatchewan Ceramics from the 1960s to Present, which was accepted with distinction in 2006 at Carleton University in Ottawa. She nominated Sures for the award while teaching at Luther College and the University of Regina in 2017.

“I credit Jack’s fantastical bandicoot-filled work along with the ceramic preserves of Victor Cicansky (former Sures student) for planting the seed for my interest in Saskatchewan crafts. He has greatly influenced Canadian ceramics.”

He continues to be a positive influence on students. Sures spends time in the ceramics studio on campus and regularly works alongside students.
Jack Sures Untitled

Untitled, 2006, black glaze expanded scrafitto porcelain - Collection of
Amy Gogarty. Photo by Don Hall.

Sures’ works have been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally. His major commissions include ceramic pieces for Secretary of State Canada, a ceramic mural for the Provincial Office Building in Saskatoon, a terrazzo floor for the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in Regina, and a mural for the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.  

Sures has received numerous awards including the Order of Canada, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit and the Canada 125 Medal. In 1991 he was presented with the U of R’s Alumni Association Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and in 1992 he received the Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Research.

When asked to comment about his latest recognition, Sures stated;

“The creative process, if it’s creative, is evolutionary. Hopefully I’ve learned some things along the road. But I think also, part of my process is that I’ve always wanted to do my own thing. As an artist, I’ve wanted to be truly creative in doing things that I felt best expressed me not expressed ideas of our culture or other people’s ideas.”

Sures’ work will continue to inspire for generations to come.

His art is represented in numerous locales including the University of Regina, the MacKenzie Art Gallery’s permanent collection, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Collection of Pecs National Museum in Pécs, Hungary, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Canada Council Art Bank, and the Bronfman Collection.


Read more about Jack Sures including information on his archival collections.

Recipients of the 2018 Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts