John (Hansa) van Horssen is an artist born in Netherlands, currently working in Bega, New South Wales, Australia.
John (Hansa) van Horssen image

Hansa van Horssen has been “following fantasies” all his life. Hairdresser at Marble Arch, deckhand on the Rhine, long-distance truckie on the highways of America and Australia. And now, hand-glazer and creator of fantasies on glass.

Hansa has developed his own unique glass-on-glass techniques. On high-quality preformed glass, he weaves, tilts and sprays layers of molten coloured ceramic glass glaze and kiln-fires the pieces to 600°C many times over, to achieve effects that mesmerise and intrigue. Hand-drawn 22 carat gold details complete the spell.

Born in Montfort, Holland in 1946, Hansa emigrated to Australia with his family when he was seven, settling in Gippsland, Victoria. Initially inspired by his mother Rita van Horssen (well known to glazing afficionados in Victoria), he started experimenting with various art media while living in an artists’ colony in Uki, northern New South Wales, in the 1970s.

“There were painters, film-makers, musicians living there. Many Americans, refugees from the draft during Vietnam. It was a very fertile time and place for all kinds of creativity,” he remembers.

Now living in Quaama on the Far South Coast of NSW, Hansa has been delighting visitors with his work at the Bus Depot Markets in Kingston for the last five years. His first solo exhibition gives him the chance to work with larger pieces and different shapes and to explore the greater range of techniques that these ‘canvases’ allow.

“The glazes continue to surprise me,” he says. “I’ve worked with this medium for 25 years and generally I know what it will and won’t do. My practice now is to set up situations where the unpredictable can happen.

“In some ways it’s like truck-driving, or guiding a huge barge down the Rhine. There I am, just a small part of this much larger process at work. But this time I’m a lot happier to play with the unpredictable …”