Glaze background by Lex Dawson
volume 30 NO 3
Frederika Ernsten’s collection after
the Christchurch earthquake
Every potter’s nightmare.
Some impressions from Christchurch potters
From Margaret Ryley: Out here at Rangiora the
noise of the quake woke me first, and sleeping
upstairs beneath the chimney in a house as
ancient and rickety as mine makes negotiating
the stairs in a good shake quite a challenge.
However nothing was broken - dresser anchored
to the wall and large pieces quake-waxed and the
house still propped up here and there on bricks. I
think I won’t get an assessor in as my children are
urging me to do. I am sure they would insist the
house be bulldozed at once. Canterbury Potters
did not fare so well. The collection of work by
visiting potters which was on a high shelf round
the room has been decimated and a kiln which
was bisque firing at the time had all the shelves
knocked sideways though with surprisingly few
breakages. Nothing appears broken in the wall
cabinets and although the pots are rather thrown around inside they may as well stay as is until we are
sure the shaking has stopped. The old cottage which is used for office library and storage has, surprisingly,
suffered no damage at all.
Jean Pollard (to her brother in Scotland):
We experienced the biggest earthquake we have had in the South Island and the worst since 1932 in New
Zealand. We were woken at 4.30 this morning with the most almighty roar and shaking which lasted for
about a minute which believe me is a very long time! And then it did it again just as fierce.
We did not get out of bed because we knew we would not be able to stand up and the electricity had cut
out! We heard all the pottery and glass which are some of our treasures come smashing down throughout
the house but with the dreadful shaking there was nothing we could do. Eventually Jim got up and
fortunately we had one of those wind-up torches/radios which we could use, and putting on shoes because
of the broken glass everywhere we left the bedroom. However because of the persistent aftershocks we
could do very little. We have lost about 15% of our collection of pottery and glass. The display cabinet
in the hall which you may remember was completely smashed and in every room there was damage. We
have spent the day cleaning up and
now that the electricity is back on we
will be able to vacuum the remaining
shards of glass. The cats disappeared
for a few hours and then came back.
Our paintings were fine and because
we always hang them with 2 hooks
there was not a problem. We are not
sure if we are completely covered by
the earthquake commission but we
should get something back, I hope,
or the house will look very bare. Jim’s
bookcase fell over in the office and
we have not had the time to tidy that
up yet, but the bookcases in the living
room are all screwed to the wall. We
will not sleep too peacefully tonight
- have just had another after-shock
so had better stop writing as I am too
close to a window in this office.
Frederika’s pot collection
p 2:
From the President
p 2:
Where have all the flowers gone?
p 3:
The Portage Award
Page 3 Girl
p 5:
Letter to the Editor
p 5:
Musing on Auctions
p 7:
National Pottery Museum Project
p 9:
Dargaville News
p 10: Making A Case For Keeping Mum
p 11: Primo Clays
p 12: Early Memories
p 13: Doreen Blumhardt
p 14: Transvestites’ seat
p 15: Earthquake News contd
p 16: The Big Smoke
p 18: Another Letter to the Ed
p 19: Shigaraki Ceramic
Cultural Park.
p 20: Archaeological Surprise
Earthquake! contd p15
From the Prez
Newsletter Editor
16 Carrick Place,
Mt Eden 1024
09 6306942
[email protected]
Copy and photos
always very welcome.
The opinions expressed by
contributors and advertisers
in this newsletter do not
reflect the views of the New
Zealand Society of Potters.
Wally Hirsh
I greet you all from the pages of the spring issue
of Ceramics Quarterly. Things have been a little
quieter than usual for all of us in NZSP HQ in
the last month but I have an explanation. Some
of you will have heard that I experienced an
unplanned “health event” recently (aka a minor
heart attack) followed by raging blood pressure
(212/90) and I spent 10 days in hospital while
a wonderful medical team got me back under
control. As I write this column in mid-August
I have been home for a week, I feel wonderful
and I’m making great progress under the eye
of a wonderful if somewhat bossy nurse Adele.
Apart from everything else I get to sleep with this
“nurse” so it can’t be that bad!
I have slowed down (doctor’s orders) the rate at
which we were addressing our list of major NZSP
objectives and we have done a bit of prioritising.
Our flagships of the website (www.nzpotters.
com) and our new look magazine Ceramics
Quarterly will be vigorously maintained. We are
into a campaign to recruit more members and
we are marching boldly towards the big event in
Auckland in April next year. Other goals have not
been forgotten and we will be moving on them
strongly too in the near future. Our scholarship
is being launched as I write. You can read about
that on page 4 and on our website.
I am especially keen that more of our senior
members get behind our major annual exhibition
in Auckland next year. This is one of our quite
specific goals and I was planning to write to
you all. Under the circumstances I ask that you
take this as another reminder that we need you
to be there. We want our annual exhibition to
include the very best of our established, young
and emerging potters. Please make it a goal of
yours to be included.
I look forward to getting back to full strength and
to reporting to you on further developments.
Since I wrote my column for this issue of CQ
events in Christchurch and its surroundings have
overtaken us.
The thoughts of all members of NZSP and the
potting community go out to all the people of
that area who have been hurt in different ways by
the endless run of quakes. Our thoughts go out
especially to all potters and collectors of ceramics
who will have lost heavily in the big shake up.
My cousin is one such person. I have had a few
enquiries from people who have lost pots but I
know that many members of NZSP, other potters
and collectors of ceramics will have lost heavily.
The news reaching us is not good and that is not
surprising given the nature of our craft.
Many shattered pieces will be irreplaceable and
I am sure that the history of ceramics in New
Zealand will have been dented by the events
of the last week. I trust that the damage done to
your houses, studios and collections will, in time,
be overcome and that you will soon be able to
return to some level of normalcy. Our thoughts
are with you.
Where Have All The Flowers Gone?
Anneke Borren, Wellington
Why are all our galleries so sterile?
Speaking from a domestic-ware potter’s point of
view, I’ve watched, over the years, “minimalism”
triumph. Is it because the environment, in which
we see the piece we fall in love with, has to be
neutral? So that we can mentally superimpose
the image of it into our own home, or garden
ambience, as a translation, neutral to subjective?
I’ve walked into galleries with gorgeous vases on
display where, on the desk, a glass milk bottle
sits with three roses in it! I know in themselves
these have become collectors’ items, but it’s still
disrespectful to the roses!
In the 1970s when potters were still allowed to
be in control of how their work was displayed in
a gallery space, I had clematis cascading from
wall vases - the “added” scent completed the
picture of “seeing”.
This last decade of my work I have concentrated
on vases, designed to show off bouquets, or
handpicked out-of-the-garden arrangements.
In my background are European flower markets,
particularly the Dutch ones. Hitting the flowerstands as a child, with wide-open nostrils,
then walking away with armfuls of cut flowers,
remains a highlight for me. So the “vases only” in
exhibitions, tell only half the story - where are the
flowers to complete, to inspire, to scent-inhale,
the full picture?
My “platform” vases are designed to show off one,
or three roses, like on a stage. My “floating” vases
hold large branches of blossom in springtime.
Valerie Ting, from the Wellington Ikebana
Society, arranges five or six vases for me, for my
annual pottery Open Weekends; as the Society
does in conjunction with the Wellington Potters
Association and the NZ Academy of Fine Arts
exhibitions. However, these are in a specific art
forum, within specific design controls. I want to
be able to pick a small bunch of nasturtiums, off
the roadside banks and cluster them in a little
round vase, designed for crinkly stems, and put
that “colour spot” in an exhibition.
Take up the challenge! Put lovely yellow lemons
in Merilyn Wiseman’s turquoise and green dishes,
and persimmons in wood-fired Ross MitchellAnyon bowls. Let’s “humanise” our exhibitions
and put smiles on people’s faces!
Vase (with rose) by Anneke Borren
First Entry in the
CQ Photo Award!!
Mia Hamilton
of Wellington who is the
headless raku potter in
this photo taken by her
11 year old son, Luke.
She says the pot is
definitely the main
feature of the photo
but I like the purple
safety crocs a lot.
Get your entries in!
Win a book.
[email protected]
With the 2010 Portage Award getting close, here
is an interesting view on the 2009 event:
The Portage Ceramics Award 2009
A Critical Essay
Leo King, Auckland
In its ninth year the Portage Ceramics Award is a
competition that is open to all ceramists/potters
in New Zealand. For the contestants it replaces
the Fletcher Challenge International Ceramics
Award 1977 to 1996. The Portage Award does not
invite overseas entries, presumably because the
sponsor does not wish to support the increased
financial burden that such an international
competition incurs. While representative of New
Zealand artists, it is a small exhibition with some
thirty works selected from less than one hundred
and fifty entries and compares unfavourably with
the entries to the Fletcher Challenge competition
which totalled over four hundred entries,
including those from at least thirty four countries.
While grateful for the facility to exhibit their work
which the Portage Award affords, New Zealand
ceramic artists regret the loss of their exposure
globally to the work of contemporary artists that
the Fletcher Challenge competition provided.
However, both administrations secured a
selector/judge from overseas who generally
have the advantage of making a less biased
judgement than a local judge. Professor Scott
Chamberlin from the University of Colorado
accepted the invitation to judge the competition
in 2009. A ceramist of international reputation,
he undertook concurrently a residency at Unitec,
a tertiary teaching establishment in Auckland.
Appraising the work submitted, Chamberlin
felt that, in general, the standard was low and
chose to change the format of the exhibition.
The underlying principle he said: “was to choose
fewer artists with the objective of the exhibition
revealing a clearer excellence of studio practice
in New Zealand. It was my intention,” he said,
“to choose artwork that would be demonstrative
of the material richness, and point to the wealth
of historical antecedents. Additionally, it was
my intention to choose work that would fit
comfortably into any other context where one
would engage with the larger and more complex
world of contemporary art”.
The result was that the number of artists whose
work was exhibited, compared with those who
showed in the previous year’s exhibition, was
reduced by about two-thirds and the number of
exhibition pieces similarly. As the gallery is not
large, the smaller number of pieces probably
benefited from more individual exposure.
However, the New Zealand ceramic community
is closely knit and while each one wishes to
enjoy the higher prices that are a feature of
most exhibitions, to aspire to be a winner and
to receive the financial reward, for those whose
work was not accepted (but which are likely
to have been under the previous selection
procedure) this means less exposure and less
opportunity to sell their work, which for those
who do not work selectively for exhibitions is
financially important. Chamberlin’s catalogue
statement contains curious paradoxes. He said
that he would choose work that he felt would
“engage with the larger and more complex
world of Contemporary Art”. This suggests that
he expected to, and did, find it here, but only
in very small numbers, thereby demonstrating
“a clear excellence of studio practice in New
Zealand”. While his selection included excellent
examples of form, his predilection appeared
to be for highly decorated surfaces which
apparently would “engage with the larger and
more complex world of contemporary art”. So
he demands more simplicity in our pots and is
depressed by the lack of evidence of the Leach/
Hamada traditions, of Japanese and Korean
models in our work - influences that were almost
uniquely prevalent in the work of New Zealand
potters from the 1950s. He also complains of
Leo King is a retired
Auckland potter, a
former Director of the
Fletcher Challenge
Ceramics Award, and
now a writer for a range
of international ceramic
The NZSP offers
members a chance to
have their own web
page on the web-site
for free!
Info on the site:
Vases by Anneke Borren
The NZSP is pleased to advise members that a scholarship has been made
available for a member for 2011 and 2012. The award is for the amount of
$750 and is intended to be sufficient for a member to travel to Australia and
take part in a ceramics conference or workshop there; or, alternatively, it
could be used towards travel to a conference or workshop further afield.
Applications for the award can be made on the official application form
which is available on our Website (nzpotters.com) or from the Secretary
([email protected])
The award is for $750 and this must be spent on attending a ceramics
conference or workshop in Australia or other country.
Applications must be submitted on the official form and should reach the
Secretary by October 20th (by email to [email protected])
Four hard copies of the application (signed and with evidence of NZ
citizenship attached) should also reach the Secretary, NZSP, PO Box 121182, Henderson 0650 Auckland by the due date.
The successful applicant will be required to write an article about their
experience for Ceramics Quarterly within 3 months of their return.
Applicants must be:
New Zealand citizens
financial members of NZSP
practising potters (currently involved in making pottery)
The process
* All applications will be acknowledged.
* Shortly after the closing date a sub-committee of the National Executive,
entitled “The Grants Committee”, will meet to consider all applications
and will recommend their selection to the NZSP Standing Committee for
* All applicants will then be notified of the outcome of this process.
* Arrangements will be made with the successful applicant to remit the funds
to them as soon as they provide evidence of the Conference or workshop they
plan to attend.
* In the event that the successful applicant does not undertake the travel as
applied for in their application, the full amount of $750 shall be refundable
to NZSP Inc.
* The selection made will be final and no correspondence will be entered
* The grant must be taken up within 12 months of its allocation.
the lack of useful pots among the entries; pots
which were, of course, the basic function of
those traditions. His selection would perhaps
have been more balanced if such models had
been available. The established potters in New
Zealand are of course cognizant of the ceramic
work of Persian African and European craftsmen
to which we were widely exposed by the overseas
entries that were exhibited in the Fletcher
Challenge International exhibitions, and have
made their choices, but those who are building
their careers will (sometimes with a knowledge
of the selector’s personal preferences in mind)
look towards contemporary models and not to
the past when planning the work they wish to
exhibit. Chamberlin’s identification of excellence
in his choice of the Premier Award, which was
contemporary and worthy of an award, surely
does not encourage these potters to look more
closely at their traditional past?
Perhaps the quality of the work of New Zealand
potters is not what it was and, if this is the case,
we are grateful to Chamberlin for remarking upon
it. However, such comment has not been made
previously and our work has been scrutinized
by a large number of international selectors and
not found to be wanting. Perhaps Chamberlin’s
working environment is different to ours and
he can play to the gallery. While he is informed
about the history of ceramics, he has acquired
less than a full knowledge of the work of New
Zealand potters over time.
Referring to the pots in the exhibition he said
“There is much indication of time spent in the
process of making” and wonders “if this is a
genuine love of labour and repetitive hand making
processes or simply a fundamental yearning for
contemplative activity”. Does this mean that he
does not approve of such activity and would
deplore the repetitive activity of the Japanese and
Korean potters and deny them the pleasure of
admiring their work? It seems that what he would
prefer to see is more attention paid to design at
the expense of intuitive creativity.
To suggest that we can do better is an acceptable
criticism, but to offer the inference that we are
apathetic is not. If he wished to make comments
that reflect nationally upon the potters of New
Zealand he should have taken the trouble
to acquaint himself with local activities and
publications or suitably qualified his statements.
It is worth saying that the work of New Zealand
ceramic artists is acceptable in Europe, Australia
and Asia - but, in Chamberlin’s view, perhaps not
in America.
The temporary reshaping of the format of the
Portage competition was well intentioned but
the simple reduction of the number of pieces
selected is not a recipe for the identification of
a good pot. As we all know, a good pot is the
product of creative thinking, executed with skill
and supported by knowledge that may have been
acquired from personal practical experience, and
this will always be obvious if the selector can
recognise it.
Letter to the Editor
John Lawrence, Dannevirke
We are referring to the remark made by Aimee
McLeod in the new Ceramics Quarterly i.e. ‘those
who have sold their soul to a dealer gallery’
which we might say sounds very melodramatic?
I’ll try to keep it brief. All through the ages
there have been dealers of some form - in fact
some artists/craftsmen would not have survived
without them. I find, as a fulltime professional,
that paperwork, computer, photography and so
on eats into my creative time enough without
coping with all the stuff a ‘good’ dealer does.
Ann Verdcourt and I have both been full time
clay people for 60 years (each!) In the early years
in NZ we explored all kinds of methods of selling
our work.
1) Standing in street fairs getting
pneumonia and suffering stupid remarks from the
2) At the door and perhaps selling some
small piece to someone who only came for a
couple of hours free entertainment.
3) Exchanging work for supplies or
services which is really stupid as the customer
always values their stuff higher than yours?
So we return to the wicked dealer gallery who
invest a lot of money, is qualified in art/craft in
some way, spend most of their time promoting
the work to the best advantage. I should add that I
have had nothing but help and co-operation from
my four dealer galleries in regard to my websites
and exhibitions in public galleries. In closing,
Ann Verdcourt and I have been members of the
NZ Society of Potters since about 1964. At times
we have treated our fee as a donation and have
been very annoyed at the narrow mindedness
and immaturity of some members. And we have
been rejected by both the best and the worst of
Musing on Auctions
Anneke Borren, Wellington
For the last 10 years, I have been going to the Art
Auctions of Dunbar Sloane’s Auction House in
Wellington, held four times a year, to check up
on the “perceived” value of what was called New
Zealand Pottery - now New Zealand Ceramics.
For the first few years, the pots up for auction
were on an inserted, xeroxed page list. “We”
then upgraded to black and white photos of some
major items, on that page.
Now, the Dunbar Sloane Art Catalogue’s
layout has the “Investment” art first - each item
photographed in colour - a second chapter of
“Affordable Art”, deemed under $5,000 and then
the third section of “Applied Art”. I applauded
when that section included colour photos! By
writing down the prices fetched at auction and by
“feeling” the atmosphere, I hoped to get a better
idea of the way the 50 years of dramatic rise and
understanding of New Zealand Clayworks (now
metamorphosed into New Zealand Ceramics)
Immigrating to New Zealand as a 16 year old
in 1963, as a relative outsider with different
cultural expectations and experiences, and as
a mostly domestic-ware potter, this has been
a very interesting time. In the last 10 years on
these auction visits, the things that have not
changed have surprised me. Collectors of Crown
Lynn “White Ware” commercially produced in
the hundreds (though pieces were hand-thrown
by Ernest Shuffflebottom and others, within the
production) still seem to want to pay more for
these items, than the work of good individual
potters of the time.
A few potters’ works stand out - always the same
few; Len Castle, Barry Brickell, Margaret Milne,
Chester Nealie, John Parker, Richard Parker,
Bronwynne Cornish .... these fetch good prices,
but in the 1960s and 70s and even well into
the 1980s, New Zealand was a domestic-ware
KILNS FOR EVERY PURPOSE from 0.6 cuft to 30 cuft
(larger kilns, top hats, shuttle kilns on request)
All kilns are available in FULL FIBRE (LAYERED or STACK BONDED), FULL BRICK
“To promote
excellence in
ceramics in New
NZSP operates in
three key strategic
Membership Aim
To provide an
umbrella organisation
for potters, pottery
clubs and associations
in New Zealand
Promotion Aim
To encourage and
promote awareness
and appreciation
of New Zealand
ceramics nationally
and internationally.
History Aim
To keep historical
records of New
Zealand Potters,
National Exhibitions,
National and Regional
publications and other
nationally significant
Potters are all people
involved in the production of
fired works
produced from clay.
PHONE: (09) 233 6690
FAX: (09) 233 6693
EMAIL: [email protected]
President: Wally Hirsh
09 521 5714
027 23 05028
[email protected]
Vice President
Anneke Borren
04 233 2047
[email protected]
Anita Barlass
PO Box 12-1182
Henderson 0560, Auckland
027 2430486
[email protected]
Immediate Past President:
Janet Smith
07-827 1888
[email protected]
Jo-Anne Raill
021 1271833
[email protected]
Duncan Shearer
07 843 3706
[email protected]
Joyce Fischer
09 439 5469
[email protected]
Mal Sole
04 479 4145
[email protected]
Anu Pratap
03 3543514
[email protected]
Josephine Waring
03 482 1316
[email protected]
Steering Committee Members:
Peter Scott
[email protected]
Linda Holloway
[email protected]
potter’s paradise!
Where have all those pots gone? They can’t
have all been broken and used up! What
hasn’t changed much either, is the “provincial”
knowledge of the buyers, versus the overall
national understanding. Auckland collectors
buy Auckland potters; Wellington buyers,
Wellington potters, and did all the South Island
potters disappear in name? Wellington’s Dunbar
Sloane auctioneer, Andrew Grigg, has migrated
to Auckland’s auction house, Cordy’s, while Art
& Object hits the right note in promoting good
pots as Art Objects. Webb’s also auctions good
pottery. This has opened up valuable discussion,
on the Auckland scene. Anybody know anything
about the Christchurch or Dunedin scenes?
Auctions, by the way, are very different from online sales like TradeMe. To be able to judge a
piece accurately, one needs to hold, feel, check
weight, smell, and to feel the difference between
a chip off and a firing mishap. Verification online is also harder and I have had the ignominy of
work traded under my name, that isn’t made by
me, yet it fetches reasonable prices!
The work I’ve admired over the last 40 years, now
comes up at auction as part of collections, or as
estate lots. However, because the prices are met
by a lack of awareness in general, of the worth of
those golden years in New Zealand clay, they are
often abysmally and disappointingly low! Over
the years I have often gone into “rescue” mode
at such auctions. Mirek Smisek (and even I do
occasionally) buys his own work back to avoid
it becoming knick-knacks in small second-hand
dealers’ shops.
Foreign & International Affairs, BNZ, ANZ and
Westpac Banks’ departments bought top works
at the time, to grace their offices and embassies
with New Zealand-made “Art”. Then, after a
time, they “up-graded” - fashions change (often
signalled globally) and their collections are put
into the auction systems to realise “what value”?
How does a collection ever become an historical
entity, if 30 years is the end of its worth as 3D
applied art? I don’t think of myself as a serious
collector, but I like having my friends’ works
around me and I can’t bear to see good pots of
the past being so slighted in a monetary sense.
So, each auction, I give myself $200 limit and I
see what I can rescue with that.
Some examples are a mid-career wine decanter
and six goblets by Mirek Smisek for $100: a
very large bottle shape by Nick Brandon, $180:
a stunning sculptural piece by John Fuller,
$60; three gorgeous feldspar-glazed, round
vases by Ian Firth, $25; four lovely blue vases
by Rosemarie McClay, $35 in total!; a Nelson
landscape tile wall-plaque by Royce McGlashen,
$50; a salt-glazed wine decanter by Warren
Tippett (Coromandel time) $50; several gorgeous
pots by Paul Fisher, ranging between $50 - $100 I could go on and on and on .... it appalls me that
our clay history is so cavalierly treated!
I remember Chester Nealie winning the Fletcher
Brownbuilt Pottery Award with a large pot, price
tag $1,000, in the 1970s. We thought then, for
the first time, good pots were beginning to be
valued as “Art”. Three months ago a mid-career
Bill Hammond painting fetched $221,000. Yet its
projected life-time is so much shorter than fired
clay - canvas stretches, paint cracks or sometimes
even fades in our strong UV light atmosphere.
Imagine having that investment money in New
Zealand pots - it would fill a container!
Where is the sense in all this? Clay has given us,
over the centuries, the most accurate reading
of past civilisations. Do we value our own 50
years in clay so lightly and cheaply? And if we’re
so concerned about a New Zealand cultural
identity, has the base line no value?
The New Dowse, whose collection of Applied
Arts is probably the best in the country, agreed
to house the late Doreen Blumhardt’s ceramic
collection, valued at one million dollars, and
where is it? In the storerooms, packed away
by arts-degree, knowledgeable curators, not
allowed to be seen, let alone touched, by
the public. Where is the display case in her
“named” gallery, with a monthly changeover
of five or six pieces to show off her Gift? I am
absolutely sure that Doreen, so hands-on, with
her sense of self-worth, would turn in her grave,
metaphorically speaking. And more, the rest of
Doreen’s domestic-ware collection goes under
the hammer at Dunbar Sloane’s on 22 July, 2010.
Why do I feel the need to write this article? To
make our 4th and 5th generations of people
aware of the richness of clay, in that time! To ask
potters to come to auctions and raise the prices of
the pots shown, by bidding upwards! To engender
pride, in what has been made! Linden Cowell,
of Dunedin, a man whose knowledge I respect
immensely, gave me a compliment in a letter
for my 60th birthday, “as a tribute to Anneke’s
humanity and talent”, with the following quote
from Howard Risatti:
“The pleasure of holding, touching and using all
exquisitely and intelligently-made objects, can
be a vehicle to transform an ordinary activity
such as eating and drinking, into a ritual of life.
The value of this should not be underestimated,
for appreciating a carefully-made object is not
solely an act of communing with another person,
across both space and time; it is also a means of
dignifying our physical human nature!”
Don’t ever underestimate our domestic-ware
pots of the 1950s, 60s and 70s! They were crafted
within true pioneer spirit and form the foundation
of what has been made since, for which they
command our respect and understanding.
Sent in by Jocelyn Logan: A Comprehensive
Catalogue of Ceramic Maker’s Marks: “Ceramic
Makers’ Marks” by Erica Gibson is coming out in
October 2010, 256 pages, $US24.95
Erica Gibson’s comprehensive guide provides
a much-needed catalogue of ceramic makers’
marks of British, French, German, and American
origin found in North American archaeological
sites. Consisting of nearly 350 marks from 112
different manufacturers from the mid-19th
through early 20th century, this catalogue
provides full information on both the history of
the mark and its variants, as well as details about
the manufacturer. To order: http://lcoastpress.
Lawrence Ewing
1015 Ellis Rd
Five Rivers
R.D.3, Lumsden
North Southland
Ph 03-248-6068
e-mail [email protected]
Auckland potters visit Clark House
National Pottery Museum Project
Howard Williams, New Zealand Ceramic
Heritage Trust
Anneke Borren’s article “Musing on Auctions”,
in this issue, makes interesting reading. Here in
Auckland the main auction houses handling 3D
art tend to achieve higher prices for ceramics
than do other centres. Perhaps it’s just a matter
of a larger population having perhaps higher
financial reserves. However, having auction
catalogues sent to me from Wellington and
comparing them to Auckland’s, certainly shows
the regional knowledge bias - Wellington potters’
work sells more readily and at better prices there;
Auckland’s are better sold here.
Is this the “who you’ve heard of” syndrome - are
works more valuable if the maker is known on
the local scene, has become a national name
or has recently died? And that’s including even
inferior examples of their work.
Pitting ceramics against “flat art” still shows
a definite financial bias attempting to retain
the ancient and unnecessary craft/art division.
From 1960 I lived for 10 years in UK, where my
sketches sold for 10 times the price I could gain
for the same drawings painstakingly transferred
onto ceramic plaques, with all the technical
requirements, machinery, materials and firing
costs included, as against an A4 sheet of paper
and a ballpoint pen! However, currently the
appreciation of ceramics is certainly changing
more into art - self-expression with sometimes
little technical knowledge or application of
“craft” skills, which can lead to self-indulgence.
With 2D art, only recently has photography
become as valuable at auction as paintings or
prints and there are still only a few galleries that
specialise in photography exhibitions. To me, art
comes from a creative person; self-expression
using eyes, head, heart and hand - your visual art
The late Bryce Stevens with Barry Brickell
outside Clark House, Hobsonville
cost and entitlements
Website: 1/4 screen
Ceramics Quarterly (CQ):
1 column x 3 cm
Website: 1/2 screen
CQ : 1 column x 10 cm
plus link to website
Website: full screen
CQ : 2 column x 10 cm
plus link to 2 pages website
Conference: Logo
Logo on HomePage
Full Page with link to website,
links to 5 other pages.
CQ : Banner or Footnote on
front page plus 1/2 page ad.
Banner, stall, flyers
Sponsor’s logo on
conference website
Sponsorship of People’s
Choice Award
should be just as valued whether your tools are a
pencil or charcoal, a brush, chisel and hammer,
a potter’s wheel, a lathe or a camera.
Further, what happens to these objects when their
current owners have no further use for them deceased estates for instance, where heirs do not
have the same interests as their forebears. What
eventually happens to collectors’ collections?
Instead of being broken up and dispersed, should
they not go to a museum to retain a vital record
of our cultural history?
New Zealand’s history of our handmade studio
pottery is a very important part of our culture,
especially through the 1970s when it became
internationally recognised through the Fletcher
Brownbuilt exhibitions and then the Fletcher
Challenge Ceramic Awards. Through that time,
our national New Zealand Potter magazine also
became internationally accredited amongst its
peers. Now the annual Portage Ceramic Awards
in Lopdell House, Titirangi have taken front
stage, though they do not carry the international
acclaim as did the Fletchers.
In 1997 Richard Quinn gave a talk at the NZSP
Coromandoo annual conference in Coromandel
where he spoke of his unrivalled collection of
Crown Lynn’s history - pots, moulds, designs,
prototypes, photos, paperwork, etc. He also
talked about Clark House in Hobsonville and
how this would be ideal as a venue for a national
museum of ceramics. From this, Barry Brickell,
Wailin Elliott, Bryce Stephens and I founded the
New Zealand Ceramic Heritage Trust (NZCHT)
in order to explore the museum idea. We legally
registered a trust committee including three
members who have since passed away - Bryce
Stevens, Ian Firth and Stan Jenkins.
The late Richard Quinn then wrote an article on
Clark House and its history for the New Zealand
Potter (Vol 39, No 2, 1997). Clark House was
built in the late 1890s, of bricks made from clay
on the property and fired in the adjacent coal
kilns of Limeburners Bay, by Rice Owen Clark,
the father of future major clay industries in New
Lynn such as Amalgamated Brick & Tile, Crown
Lynn and Ceramco. Eventually the house became
the RNZAF’s special medical unit, close to their
main airfield, Whenuapai.
A Clark granddaughter was Briar Gardner (18791968) one of our very first true studio potters.
She was taught to throw by a journeyman potter
brought here from the Doulton pottery, UK and
her first pots were coal-fired in her brothers’
kilns (Gardner Bros & Parker) in New Lynn about
1926. A Clark grandson became Sir Tom Clark,
the ultimate CEO of Ceramco, who became
well-known also in promoting New Zealand in
international yacht racing.
Sir Tom (now deceased) attended NZCHT’s 2003
AGM where our enthusiastic supporter, Waitakere
City mayor Bob Harvey, gave us his blessing
and Sir Tom became our patron. Sir Tom then
stated that when the RNZAF shifted operations
to Ohakea, vacating Clark House, the property
had to be sold back to his family, at which time
he would pass ownership to Waitakere City as
part of its heritage. In turn, Bob Harvey said it
would then be made available to NZCHT to be
established as our national ceramics museum historically a very fitting venue.
This move is unfortunately now ruled out as the
government has kept Whenuapai as the NZRAF’s
airfield - we will not see our museum moving
into Clark House any time in the foreseeable
future - a great blow to our aspirations. But we
are still very active.
On top of our current collection, NZCHT was
also promised by the Fletcher family’s art trust
(several of the family attended our AGM at the
invitation of Bob Harvey) that though they would
retain ownership of the 21 winning works from
all the annual Fletcher Ceramics Awards, they
would put them into our curatorial care, to be
publically accessible in our future museum. This
adds greatly to our recognition as a national
repository for NZ’s studio ceramic heritage.
NZCHT’s growing collection has been safely
housed at Waitakere City’s historic Amalgamated
Brick and Tile (AMBRICO) Kiln building in Grey
Lynn - until early this year. The now owners of the
late Richard Quinn’s Crown Lynn collection, the
Portage Ceramics Trust, has taken over this space
to house its collection and to accommodate
offices and workroom. We had to shift our
collection out in short time, but it gave an ideal
opportunity to fully archive all the material
during the move.
Now, after four volunteer days of our committee
members’ work, over 400 pots are fully archived
to museum standards, as are some industrial
ceramics; salt-glazed store jars, drain pipes,
insulators and chimney pots, machinery
(including Briar Gardner’s double-cone potter’s
wheel) hundreds of photos and slides, CDs,
books, exhibition catalogues and international
pottery magazines. We have from the late Stan
Jenkins the master copies of his 16mm movie
films of Peter Stichbury, Mirek Smisek, Barry
Brickell, Harry and May Davis. These we have
deposited with the National Film Archives in
Wellington for safe keeping in their atmospherecontrolled archives, but we hold videotape
copies. Some 200 of our pottery books, from the
estate of the late Mary Hardwick-Smith, have
been temporarily lent to the ASP library for their
students’ in-house use.
Since the recent good/bad management policy
changes at the Auckland War Memorial Museum,
The Auckland Studio Potters are considering
removing their own extensive collection from
there, engendering much discussion as to
what should happen to this legacy. Shouldn’t
we combine our collections, strengthening a
specialist National Ceramics Museum? Also the
few works the NZSP hold should be included,
as this society has no permanent home, with
the executive’s standing committee changing its
physical location each time a new President is
Many artefacts from deceased estates have been
gifted to NZCHT and there is a growing number
of potters - and collectors - who have promised to
add to the collection in their wills, particularly in
cases where otherwise inheritors have no specific
interest in the works, other than putting them up
for auction, thus dispersing the collection with
possibly small financial gain (refer back to notes
on auctions!).
At the time of writing the New Zealand Ceramic
Heritage Trust committee comprises:
Duncan Shearer (Hamilton) and Anneke Borren
(Wellington) both of whom are current NZSP
vice-presidents; Barry Brickell and Wailin
Elliott (Coromandel) and from Auckland, Dr
Denis Hanna, Geoff Perkins, Martin Adlington,
Pamela Elliott (secretary and treasurer) and
Howard Williams (chair). We are currently
working on securing a permanent venue for the
proposed working museum and negotiating a
major funding source. We are, of course, open
to receiving artefacts and documents for the
museum collection, including other collections
that have not the facilities to correctly archive
and display them.
Watch this Space!
An Expensive Lesson
I recently had a $3000 (wholesale) brick piece
returned from the Waiheke Community Art
Gallery after they had put pressure on me to use
it in a fund-raising sale they were organising.
At the time it was in Masterworks Gallery who
were very cooperative and happy to let the
Waiheke gallery borrow it on the chance that it
might sell. I told Waiheke that I didn’t want to be
involved but that they were welcome to take it if
Masterworks agreed. Waiheke Gallery picked it
up, it didn’t sell and it was eventually returned to
Masterworks, damaged in transit and unsaleable.
I had to hire a trailer and some help, pick it up
and take it home and write it off. Waiheke sent
me $1500 insurance (months after they received
the money from the insurance company) said
that’s all they were insured for and all they could
afford. I eventually got a graceless letter from the
Chairperson of the gallery advising me to take
out insurance next time. There will not be a next
time. Peter Lange
Sheryl Gudgeon, Joyce Fischer and Cathy Stevens
- part of the Northern Raku group
The Dargaville Bath Kiln warms up
Dargaville News
Joyce Fischer, Dargaville
Dargaville, a historic Kaipara town on the
Northern Wairoa River, has, in the past, had very
little mention in our publication. I hope over the
next year to change that.
When I came to live in Aratapu 5 years ago
and advertised pottery classes the replies then
(and now) were overwhelming. One was from
Kay Nichols, who juggles family, pottery and
raising beef cattle. The idea of pit-firing appealed
enormously and this is what she set out to do,
and she does it well.
“The Great Plate” exhibition on at the Yvonne Rust
Gallery at the Quarry ran from 2 July to 3 August,
and the plates were auctioned on Trademe from
26th July. There is to be a further exhibition at
Reyburn House Whangarei by Jeanine Oxenious
and the Friday morning Northland Firebirds
are also exhibiting. Watch out for the annual
exhibition at Whangarei’s Fernery in October,
and in December there will be an exhibition of
Firebirds work at The Porcine Gallery with “A
Book Title” as the theme.
Dargaville has just been thoroughly impressed
with “Teapots, Textures and Objets D’Art”, a
sculpture exhibition by local artists Dell Pryor,
mixed media with raku-fired embellishments
by Patricia Mortenson, art-clay and raku based
jewellery by Jen Crundwell, pottery by Joyce
Two new galleries have also sprung up in
Dargaville, all taking items of clay with other
media and they are doing well. Which now begs
the age-old question of where does art and craft
divide? I read recently in a 10 year old magazine
that the gap was closing so close that art and craft
could be seen together, so I must tell everyone
that our great Dargaville Library has been running
once a year an Affordable Arts Festival at which
local artists can sell their work. There will be
another in November. One of the most exciting
and satisfying processes among potters up here is
raku. There are about 10 of us making raku items
- we are all totally addicted.
PS: “Julie-Ann”, the big wood-fired kiln at the
Quarry, is going to be fired again in September
by Susie Rogers - we’re all looking forward to
CCG Industries Ltd,
Wellington Potters,
South Street
Bot Pots,
Morris & James
(Matakana) Ltd
Making a Case For Keeping Mum
The Piper’s Tale
As a bagpiper, I play many
gigs. Recently I was asked
by a funeral director to play
at a graveside service for
a homeless man. He had
no family or friends, so the
service was to be at a pauper’s
cemetery in the Wairarapa
back country.
I was not familiar with the
area and I got lost but being
a typical man, I didn’t stop
for directions. I finally arrived
an hour late and saw that the
funeral guy had evidently
gone and the hearse was
nowhere in sight.
There were only a couple
of scruffy bearded gravediggers left and they were
eating lunch. I felt bad and
apologised to the men for
being late. I went to the side
of the grave and looked down
and saw the grave was already
half full. I didn’t know what
else to do, so I started to play.
The workers put down
their lunches and gathered
around. I played out my heart
and soul for this man with no
family and friends. I played
like I’ve never played before,
for this homeless man. And
as I played ‘Amazing Grace,’
the workers began to weep.
They wept, I wept, we all
wept together.
When I finished I packed
up my bagpipes and started
for my car. Though my head
hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my
car, I heard one of the workers
say, “I’ve never seen anything
like that before, and I’ve been
digging pits for pitfiring for
more than twenty years.”
Peter Lange
I do like a good ambiguous headline –
words, and, sweet irony, I am about to write a
lot of them (over 1100 in fact, including those
inside these brackets) to try to persuade you that
it might actually be helpful to your career to use
fewer of them. There was a debate late last year,
sponsored by the Portage Award and its respected
American judge, Scott Chamberlin, that sought
to encourage New Zealand potters to speak out
about their work, explain it in depth and thereby,
in some manner, raise the profile of ceramics in
the community. American Universities make a
virtue of this sort of thing – in fact the curriculum
of some of their ceramic courses requires this. A
picture is said to be worth a thousand words, but
it seems that in many of these courses they want
both the picture and the thousand words on top
just in case you missed the point.
Visiting artists have to learn that a NZ grunt does
not translate to Homer’s “Doh!”. It means that the
point is taken, digested and appreciated. Though
admittedly sometimes it is just a grunt. A double
grunt is gold and worth all the aeroplane travel
getting here.
I attended a lecture by a visiting potter recently
in which her work, which I have admired from
magazines, came perilously close to losing its
attraction to me because of a poorly delivered
talk, read verbatim, with the bad light causing
quite a few stumbles (though in her defence there
were some very complicated sentences, which,
in her prosecution, she probably wrote herself).
The situation was saved by the blessed relief of
an unstructured question time where she was
able to leave the podium and actually chat to the
audience and leave the clever stuff back on the
That’s part of the danger – the clever stuff.
Too many syllables stuck together (the word
“monosyllabic” always makes me smile) like
wading chest-deep through concentrated
alphabet soup. Sir Geoffrey Palmer was the
master of unexpected syllable combinations –
he could do it with as few as two syllables. He
only needed to say “resile” or “inchoate” and you
were immediately on the back foot.
I recently made a Brick Caravan. If someone
asked me to explain it I would say “It’s a caravan
made of bricks”. That’s it. However my wife Ro,
who is of an academic bent and involved with
psychology to boot, reckons she could talk about
it for half an hour (for a small fee or at least a
petrol voucher) and extend it to an hour if I gave
permission to include my upbringing.
Explaining work can be a trap. I have had the
experience of having work that I admired
explained by way of notes in the catalogue, and
have been dismayed to find that there was less
going on than I thought. The artist whose work
moves you to the point of tears might deliver a
lecture that explains that a particularly emotional
work simply pays homage to a reasonably
attractive crustacean fossil of the Pleistocene era.
Demystifying is a dangerous thing. Unless it’s
your windscreen. I once constructed a very
complex piece based completely on newly
discovered technical wizardry – slip-casting,
lustres, decals, glazed kiln shelves, found objects
(boy, could I find objects in those days), the lot,
with no clear thought process to worry me, and
I entered it into the Fletcher Challenge Award.
It was selected (because it was too heavy to
move off the table, someone cruelly suggested).
In the meantime I had discovered, within its
haphazard presence, an accidental connection
to “Conservation” which was becoming popular
at the time. So I called it something along
those lines. “The Kauri Weeps Into the Muddy
Waters of Poneke (Wellington)” or somesuch,
forgetting for a moment that the kauri doesn’t
grow south of Raglan. I was enjoying the oysters
and champagne of the opening when I was
interrupted by a chap who asked me what my
piece meant. In an attempt to hide the fact that I
had no idea what it meant, I took the smart-arse
position and suggested in a slightly slurred way
that I would happily explain it, but only to the
person who bought it; whereupon he said he had
just bought it. The champagne took over and I
explained it to exhaustion, not even bothering to
finish some of the words, dredging up stuff which
I never knew was in my brain, and eventually got
him shifting from foot to foot and looking around
for the toilet sign. James Thurber used to call his
drawings “pre-intentionalist” meaning they were
finished before the ideas for them had occurred
to him. That’s not a bad approach.
The viewer and the buyer deserve the right to
have a bit of figuring out to do; give them their
money’s worth, give them the chance to put their
own spin on the work – the work is not yours
any longer, it puts itself out there to anyone who
looks at it. Don’t give it all away. The viewer
might get it horribly wrong, like mis-hearing the
words of a difficult song (“‘scuse me while I kiss
this guy”, that sort of thing), but they’ll reach their
own conclusion and be satisfied.
I am happy for folk to write about other folk’s
work - academics like to do this. They provide
a life-line for the drowning viewer. But there
should not be any demand on the artist to write
or say anything. The most important reaction
from any work of art should not come via the
catalogue but directly from the work. It should
give you goose-bumps all by itself.
I have given talks about my work at times around
the place. On these occasions I choose to regard
myself as an entertainer rather than an explainer. I
am not going to ask folk to leave their firesides on
a cold winter’s night to come to hear me using art
prattle and tired clichés, or as George Orwell put
it so beautifully “dying metaphors and pompous
diction” – in my opinion they want to smile, to
relax, to look at my snaps, and then, over a cup
of tea and a ginger nut, talk about anything else.
I haven’t even touched on the technique of
putting words on clay. “I will knead words”.
Scratched or glazed or screen-printed on. No
space here except to remind you that ceramics
can last 100,000 years and even quotes from
Dylan may be ho-hum by then. So do them in
bad handwriting – give the archaeologists a little
work to do.
Primo Clays
Aimée McLeod
“Fusion” in Dunedin this year saw the
demonstrators and students of the master classes
use and enjoy Primo Porcelain, a comparative
newcomer on the New Zealand clay scene.
Primo Clays are produced by Paul Pepworth in
Palmerston North.
Paul’s interest in ceramics was aroused in the
mid seventies while studying for an engineering
degree in Cape Town when his wife Jenny and
her mother took some pottery classes. He built
her a wheel, then a kiln, then another and
with one thing leading to another, he was soon
working with a full time production potter. Later
he worked for and was a partner in a number
of ceramic production equipment businesses
building industrial kilns and pug mills.
About 15 years ago, when the political situation
in South Africa became too much for them, the
Pepworths with their two small daughters and
extended family moved to New Zealand.
Decopot was established in Palmerston North
to produce bisque table-ware. Claybright
underglazes and stains followed. Paul started
developing his own clays about 7 years ago
when it became harder to get the clays he wanted
for his bisque ware. Producing white clay bodies
for New Zealand potters has since become an
integral part of the business.
I told Paul I was not really an industrial spy and
he gave me a full explanation of his methods
and tour of his factory where he employs a few
people who are considered part of the family.
Paul and Jenny travel to trade fairs, where they
make connections and collect small samples
of raw materials. The creative part starts in his
laboratory/workshop. Here he tests and tests
these materials in new formulations and fires
a test kiln constantly. This appears to be one
of his passions. Petunze, it seems, is the key to
translucence in porcelain.
Clay bodies are produced in sequence starting
with High-Fired Porcelain and ending with Buff
Stoneware (a creamy off-white). Before starting on
porcelain all attention is focussed on a complete
clean out of the premises and all the equipment
to keep it pristine. This is labour intensive and
contributes to the higher cost of porcelain bodies.
For production, one corner of the materials
storage space is used to weigh out the ingredients
according to the recipe. This is done by one
person and checked by another. Mistakes here
are not an option!
Dry ingredients all go into a big blunger where
they are dispersed with water for 2-3 hours
before being passed through a 120# vibrating
screen. The resultant slip is checked for density
and pumped into the holding tank. In the case of
porcelain, the slip gets pumped into the holding
tank over two extremely strong magnets, which
take all the iron bits and impurities out of the
clay, to make it pure white. All the equipment is
stainless steel or plastic so as not to contaminate
the clay. Next, the slip gets pumped into the filter
press at high pressure for 6-8 hours to remove
excess water which, with the many soluble salts
common in clays, is drained away.
The square filter-cakes of clay are removed from
the filter press and put through the big pug mill.
Made in East Germany, this de-airing pug has an
opening large enough to take the cakes of clay
and too high up to accidentally get your arm
caught! It churns up the clay and rolls out nice
compact square sausages which get cut up in
10kg blocks and bagged. Darwoot, a refugee from
Burma does the bagging up. Pallets of porcelain
get wrapped up in black polythene to prevent
mould growth. As a wimpy not-so-macho potter,
I am delighted with 10kg instead of 20kg bags of
clay, but it is also an extremely sensible move for
any potter’s much abused body.
Decopot, the other side of Paul’s business,
makes ram-pressed bisque ware. His collection
of master moulds is impressive and kept on
the mezzanine where the plaster work gets
done. The original model is made in plaster,
before being cast as the die by Michael. Inside
the plaster die is a wheel-like metal frame with
mesh to which gets tied a spiral of porous mouldtubing. Air pumped through the tube forces more
water to dry out from the plaster which makes the
die stronger and longer lasting. Each die will last
from a hundred up to two thousand pressings at
45 tonne pressure. Nowadays though, Paul will
rarely produce that many of any run.
During my visit, Kiwa was ram-pressing Temuka
“The Whakapapa of Clay,
Water & Fire”
“An Otherworld Journey in
lectures and
demonstrations by
John Charteris and Robyn
Jan 22nd - 25th 2011.
Contact Susan Flight at
Mountain Dreaming Arts
Waimaunga Rd. Raglan.
Postal Address: P.O.Box
237, Raglan.
Phone: 0272716157.
The Decopots pugmill
pugging porcelain
Our Members
Are Exhibiting
Pottery plates. It looked simple and quick, but
being told it had taken him a couple of years to
master this technique, I believe it easily. After
making ten or so pieces, the die gets water logged
from the clay. To ensure clean removal of the
pressed wares, the die then needs to dry out again
but the internal porous tube allows compressed
air to purge the die dry within minutes. This is
quite a sight as vapour hisses out!
Pressed pieces are dried overnight in a huge
“airless” dryer. Each piece gets cleaned up and
fettled on a wet rotating sponge. They then get
stacked and bisque fired in the 70cuft kiln. Quite
ingeniously, the kiln moves on tracks and the
ware is stationary, which allows one stack to be
loaded while the kiln is firing another.
Paul does not produce as much bisque ware
in-house as he used to. He outsources some of
his shapes, especially hollow ware, to China.
This works out a lot cheaper because it is labour
intensive, though the designs are his own.
The third string to his business is glazes and
stains. He produces “Abbots” glazes and also
sells glaze stains under this label. Inspiration
underglazes, originally developed by Quentin
Whitehouse of Western Potters Supplies are
now made alongside “Claybright” underglazes.
Jenny and her mother prepare these underglazes
at their home workshop. Again, most primary
materials are sourced from Asia or Europe.
Primo Clays has only been active for a couple
of years. It is an interesting venture and Paul is
happy to receive feedback from potters, or to
welcome visitors to see his operation. Fusion
has put him on the potters’ map and he will be
one of the main sponsors of The Big Smoke in
To find out more about his clays and other
products, check out the website:
www.primoporcelain.com or www.abbots.co.nz
10 Nile Street
Pots by Sue Newitt, Nelson
Early Memories
e-mail address
[email protected]
Pamela Annsouth
Way back, probably 1956, my fiancee and I ‘discovered’ a ‘treasure trove.’ It was contained uphill in
a tiny little street in Wellington. Named Stockton’s (set up by Wilf Wright’s father I believe.) Displayed
were shelves of now well known N.Z potters, and because import restrictions had recently been lifted
it was possible to buy works by all the ‘greats’ of British Ceramics.
It became a destination of feasting for us, and so it was from here that among the many works we
purchased was a wonderful bowl, scraffito through a dark glazed exterior and a glorious vibrant saffron
interior. The Lucie Rie was wrapped and we took it home to grace our coffee table.
There it was for years before our toddler swiped it onto our wooden floor. We were sad about the loss,
and missed it but, hey! life goes on. Now though I couldn’t afford such a piece.
In recent years I have adopted the role of ‘Pottery Police’ and most Saturday mornings visit local garage
sales. Pickings are poor generally but at a recent jumble sale among a miscellany of ‘allsorts’ was a
Lucy Rie pot, price? 50 cents. Poetic justice?
As I’d always kept a bag of clay since the days of sitting my Fine Art Prelim exams when I was required
to create a sculpture using this ochre coloured malleable ‘stuff’, I was interested to attend a workshop
advertised on a poster at Stockton’s.
Doreen Blumbhart and Helen Mason were the tutors. The venue, Teachers’ Training Centre in Kelburn
where Doreen was Head. We were introduced to upright wheels that we stood at to throw. These had a
choice of 3 speeds only, and the highest we were told was required to ‘centre’ the clay.
Dedication began, and it wasn’t until the end of the day I became acutely aware of pain in the tips of my
fingers. In fact some of my nails were worn so low they were bleeding. Blood and mud swirled down
the drain, but I was initiated, something in me had ‘stirred’.
The immense enthusiasm, caring and sharing of these two pioneering women and their generous
encouragment on that day, made a lasting impression, although it wasn’t until many years later that I
was able to become a potter myself.
Doreen Blumhardt Auction
Pamela Annsouth
There was abolutely no sign of a monetary recession at the auction of Doreen Blumhardt’s
remaining collection of works, held recently at Dunbar Sloane in Wellington.
The auction was, according to Simon Manchester, Applied Arts consultant at Dunbar Sloane, “the
largest and most significant applied art collection to come to the market in New Zealand. It is an
incredibly exciting and diverse offering that is unlikely to be matched in the forseeable future.”
Around 150 people assembled for the start of auctioning; many had travelled from afar to attend.
Assistants stood by with numerous telephone bids. The bidding numbers ran out twice during the
course of the day as people came and went. Bidding was fast and furious throughout the six hours
it took to dispatch 455 lots to new collectors.
Her wide travels and friendships were evident in the Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Persian, Central
South American, Lombok, Scandanadian, American and English Pottery.
The first lot, a pot of Doreen’s, was a vase of flattened spherical form with a mottled blue/pale
green and gold glaze and sold for $3,600.
Later a white glazed jug by Lucie Rie with manganese glazed and scraffitoed interior, circa 1955,
sold for $5,600, the highest bid realized. Works by NZ potters and sculptors also attracted very
healthy bidding and prices.
Doreen’s glazing expertise was splendidly displayed on her decorative platters and a group of
strong slab-built floor vases, as well as some fine examples of rock-impressed wall pieces. It was
interesting to see the influence her collected pieces had made on her own production throughout
a long potting and teaching career.
The Dame Doreen Blumhardt Foundation was established in 2003. She said: ”The Blumhardt
Foundation is the outcome of a long-held dream of mine – to ensure that New Zealand’s rich
tradition of decorative art and design is celebrated, cherished and nourished. The Foundation aims
to work with others to assemble and preserve rich collections of the very best examples and to
build innovative programmes of engagement, education and participation around them”.
The New Dowse Gallery has received 130 pieces, which will be exhibited sometime in the future.
This auction raised $220,000.
Doreen has left a magnificent and enduring legacy to NZ applied art making. Not only in the
generous bequeathing of her entire collection, books and ephemera, but in the remarkable number
of people she influenced in building their appreciation of art and especially pottery throughout
her life.
A truly Grand Dame!
Simon Manchester (left)
and the team at Dunbar
Sloane look for bids at
the Doreen Blumhardt
“Art After Dark
Toi o te Po”
Peter Stichbury
Enjoy a floortalk at the
exhibition of
“Peter Stichbury:
A Potter’s World”,
listen to Peter and
Diane Stichbury in
conversation, and view
a film about Stichbury
associate Michael
Thursday 21st October
5.30pm – 8.15pm.
Throughout Te Papa.
Free entry.
City Council Supports Transvestites - Literally
Gail is a Waikato
potter and one of
the hardworking and
energetic Waiclay team.
Gail Drake
Some time ago an illegal seat was installed
the removal of the illegal offending item the
outside “Calluzi”, a bar frequented by the local
council decided to commission Peter Lange to
transvestites in Karangahape Rd, Auckland.
build the trannies a new ceramic one with its
Over a period of time this seat became a
own permit.
stage for the drag queens to dance on, but it
Brief: “1. It must be able to withstand the
eventually became somewhat dilapidated
weight of 4 generous transvestites. 2. It must
through “heavy” use.
have gaps no more than 10mm wide to prevent
Rather than the usual bureaucratic approach,
stilettos getting stuck. 3. It must be aesthetically
the council took a refreshing view of this
alternative activity. Instead of demanding
Peter explores and stretches the limits of
ceramics, using computer generation and
his general knowledge of clay materials and
is delighted to have had a part in bringing
together the local council, the art community
and an alternative lifestyle. His design, named
“Chaise Lange” by the council, using leadglazed “flax” tiles, reflects the exuberance of
the local activities combined with a certain
camp chic.
Morris & James Pottery
Established 1977
Visit our
Collection Showroom.
FREE pottery tour
everyday at 11.30am
Relax in courtyard
licensed cafe
Open 7 days
9am till 5pm
48 Tongue Farm Road
P: 09 422 7116
Earthquake News continued
Jim Pollard:
I am a great admirer of Museum Wax
(Quakewax); nothing that was anchored with
it got smashed. Every collector should have a
jar of it. You can get it from:
Conservation Supplies
81 Great North Road, PO Box 646
Warkworth 0941 tel: 09 425 7380
email: [email protected]
web: www.conservationsupplies.co.nz
The after shocks are a bit unnerving, especially
this morning which sloshed our tea out of the
cups at breakfast. Living near the airport makes
it worse because big planes going over make
the same sound as an earthquake on the way.
I have noticed a rather ominous statement
about contents insurance on EQC’s website:
“The property items not covered include
motor vehicles, trailers, boats, swimming
pools, fences, jewellery, money, works of art,
securities and documents.”
It may be time to remember that all those
smashed treasures were made by skilled
craftspeople after all.
Museum is closed indefinitely so that will be
cancelled. I think Conservation supplies will
have a run on museum wax – I’ll be putting
my order through today. Jim apparently had
his collection secured with wax but he still lost
lots that weren’t.
Win a book!
Send in the best photograph
of a potter or a pot or pottery
activity you’ve ever taken.
We’ll put the best of
them into this newsletter
and by the time the 2011
Conference comes around
we’ll have a prize for the
winner - a copy of the new
ASP publication coming out
at that time.
Dianne Stoutt: Thinking of you in Chrischurch
hoping the aftershocks are minimal and
reduce to nothing soon. We are in awe of how
well-organised Christchurch city is for such a
disaster. If any of the pottery clubs in the North
Island can assist Cantabrians in any way (even
if it’s providing accommodation for a break
away) let me know.
My email is: [email protected]
The Pollard family cat during the earthquake
Digital only, preferably
300dpi, full colour
(we’ll keep a space on
a colour page); we’ll
need information about
the subject and the
[email protected]
Linda Pringle: Thanks for your thoughts – we
have got off very lightly with minor interior
damage and only a few ceramic losses in
spite of having 3 centred almost underneath.
I’ve discovered our jam recipe makes a very
good glue – we had glass & jam for Africa
right where we needed to exit the bedroom,
no power, torches and shoes buried under stuff
off shelves, having always left them where we
For up-to-date news about Christthought was a good place to grab them in an
church potters, the earthquake and
emergency, needless to say we are revising the
ways in which you might be able
safe places – our northwest corners were the
to help, visit the NZ Potters website
least stable places due to the incoming forces.
Surprisingly some fragile pieces survived the
fall and a lot more didn’t
even move in spite of not
being secured. It was all very
Frederika and the Pollards
have lost a significant amount
of their collections, Amy &
Potters Clay manufactures 30 specialist clays for both professional and
Michael Michaels have lost
their house, Margaret Ryley
hobby potter. We pride ourselves on prompt delivery to anywhere in NZ.
is fine. I’ve checked with a
number of others and they
Earthenware: Rich red to pale buff pink. Seven varieties to choose from.
are fine – Sally Connolly
is down Southshore where
Stoneware: Pale grey to cream and light browns. Sixteen to choose from.
they lost water & sewage
but is OK with not too much
damage & losses. Halswell
White clays: Pure whites. Seven varieties to choose from.
folk are OK but their streets
are not – haven’t heard
Dry powder clays and liquid casting slips.
how the club rooms have
fared yet as they haven’t
been able to get in there as
Please contact us for a brochure or for information on our products:
far as I know. Mt Pleasant
42 Quarantine Road, PO Box 2096, Stoke, Nelson
were to have their 50 year
anniversary and exhibitions
Phone: 03 547 3397 Fax: 03 547 5704 E-mail: [email protected]
opening this week but the
Potters Clay
The Clay People
The Big Smoke
Jo-Anne Raill
I have often thought that learning how to
create with clay is also a journey in learning
about yourself.
Well, if there is something to be learnt from
organising a conference, it is flexibility.
After lengthy, fruitless negotiations with the
Aotea Centre we have now decided to abandon
it as a site for our National Exhibition. We have
gone from a conference-like foyer, albeit in the
CBD, to one of great character and beauty.
Maybe we should call this divine intervention.
The Mt. Eden Methodist church was facing a
dwindling congregation. The local community,
council and congregation decided to get
together and embark on an ambitious fundraising mission. The interior is being completely
refurbished and fitted as an exhibition space.
These renovations are due for completion
in October. There will be photos of the
exhibition space in the next issue of Ceramics
Quarterly. Its ecclesiastical ceiling arches are
truly beautiful. The new destination for our
National Exhibition, Mt Eden, is in the heart
of Auckland’s art, restaurant and café area and
predictably an excellent location for sales.
All guest demonstrators for the conference
have now been finalised and biographies
and photographs of their work are on the
conference website:
Warren & Kate Fransham
Phone 04 939 1211
e-mail: [email protected]
The following is a short description what to
expect from each artist
Gustavo Perez
An internationally known Mexican artist.
Gustavo throws, slices his work and
reassembles it. He has incredible throwing
skills and uses just a few tools to create the
most amazing effects.
Michael Doolan
Based in Australia. He handbuilds large
sculptures. Michael uses very interesting
finishes. Throw out your glaze books if you
decide to follow this path.
Brian Adams
From England. He uses the very latest computer
technology to design his moulds.
He will be explaining this technology as
well as doing practical demonstrations at
the conference.
Linda Christianson
She lives in Minnesota, USA, and uses the
method of soda firing masterfully to create
her quirky but functional pieces. She will
be demonstrating using the kick wheel.
Paul Maseyk
A New Zealander who is quickly developing
an international ceramic reputation.
He will be throwing on the wheel and
demonstrating his drawing technique.
And there’ll be a weird
firing to gather around
over dinner
Carla Ruka
Based in Auckland Carla has run a number of
inspiring workshops at this end of the country.
She will be demonstrating her coil building
techniques which are very useful for making
larger work.
“Playing With Fire”
the much-anticipated
publication celebrating
fifty years of the
Auckland Studio Potters
Society will be launched
during the “Big Smoke”
Mike O’Donnell
Hails from the Waikato and has many a story
to tell. He wheel-throws domestic ware and
perhaps he will also tell the story of his luscious glaze finishes.
The conference has exciting events lined up
International and local demonstrators
Keynote speakers
Make-and-talk panel
Trade tables
Spectacular firings
Bus Tours
Bring, buy and trade tables
Saturday night dinner on site
Onsite Exhibitions
Live music and lots of social activities.
We’ve had a lot of interest from overseas
potters and friends wanting to come - Italy,
Australia, UK.
Waikato Ceramics is pleased to anounce that
the original Mac’s Mud pottery clay is back!
Mac’s White: Firing 1150 (Cone 1) – 1280C (Cone 9)
A fine white clay that performs well as an earthenware
through to white vitrified stoneware. Good colour
response and glaze fit. Suitable for throwing, hand or
slab building.
Available from:
Waikato Ceramics
7-11 West St
Ph 07 856 8890, Fax 07 856 9982
Email: [email protected]
further clay
bodies to follow
A full page:
$200 per issue
$700 for 4 issue
Half page:
$140 per issue
$500 for 4 issues
Third of a page: $100 per
issue, $350 for 4 issues
Quarter of a page $80 per
$300 for 4 issues.
Classified: $5 per column
Letter to the Editor
Barry Brickell
Dear Ed .... Best issue yet, salutations, good reading
at least, even if I don’t think so much of the pots.
“Why Bother?” ... humph, now I’ve got to try and
wriggle out of this one and already I‘m squirming,
form filling sending etc especially when you have
nothing much that you would badly want to submit.
I wouldn’t bother to send domestic pots of course.
But the kind of thing that I would feel good about
is either too big or too rough and grotty to appeal
to most or even be tolerated at such a prestigious
show as the National (or Labour). Or too erotic.
But I promise “to do something about the matter”
this year, especially as it is in Auckland, makes it
easier. How can I aspire to the impeccable record of
Mirek and Rick Rudd? Am I forgiven if I do manage?
Now for an attempt at answering your questions:Selection – it becomes the judge’s exhibition rather
than that of the potters, ceramicists! or participants.
I think that the selection thing is out-dated - it would
be more democratic to lay down a few principles
Barry Brickell with his “Weed” built in
conjunction with Paul Maseyk and
Eric Ormundson at Driving Creek.
It will be exhibited at Auckland’s
“Sculpture On Shore” in November.
for those who would exhibit.
The word potter requires the same degree of
elevation as the word craft. If a pot floats it’s craft,
if it sinks, it’s art. I infinitely prefer to be called
a potter than a ceramicist, an utterly abhorrent
word that fails dismally to roll off the tongue. By
the way, I came across a definition of “ceramic”.
It included the making of cement, which is clay
mixed with limestone and fired to 1400C and
then ground up. When you look at cement, it has
a faint greenish colour and when used as a glaze
it is a celadon – of sorts. If you were to change
the name of the organ to “Pottery Quarterly”
you would be harping back to the earlier English
one which featured Leach, Cardew, PlaydellBouvery, Hamada, Lucie Rie and others. Frankly,
my preference would be for this latter title,
I have never liked the idea of prizes, especially
in degrees as it reminds me of the sports field,
competition and monetarism. I mean money
as a prize. There are more creative ways of
acknowledging a really fine piece of work,
like a dinner with very good wine or if the
potter is religious, an appropriate sermon from
the pulpit of the potter’s choice. Or even an
acknowledgement on TV, Art NZ or any other
chosen media. Time again for a change.
Kudos – what is it? As fine an exhibition could
be mounted in a well-lit vacated cow shed as in
a smart, tight city gallery space. In fact, in the
case of pottery (ceramics too if you please) the
cow shed would be better. A “blue rinse” cheque
book would surely find it quaint.
One could make the National Exhibition solely
for professionals. My definition of professional
is for those whose income is derived solely from
sales of their work (as clayworkers). But these
days, I can’t think of one who would qualify. I
feel that words such as professional, exclusive,
executive (CEO!), vogue, kudos, even fashion
and oeuvre, are embarrassing. As above, I suggest
that perhaps to simply lay down some principles
would do.
One could press for Te Papa as the annual venue
but I cannot see the Bureaucracy of Arts and
Culture ever agreeing to this one. I think that the
Society is right in spreading the gospel around
the country and to perhaps limit the coverage
to the main centres of population. One needs
then to draw limits; would a town, say the size
of Masterton, be a suitable venue? Frankly, I
think not, because there is a reliable, enjoyable
and regular train service that connects it to the
... umm – Te Papa, or elsewhere. I can’t imagine
for one millisecond that a well-established dealer
gallery such as the Peter McLeavey would cope.
One could always try the prestigious Academy
of Fine Arts in Wellington, but then clay work is
regarded as Coarse rather than Fine Art. I went
through this pugmill in 2008.
Now for a comment or two about the previous
issue, edited by the very able Josephine Waring:
“Benhar” - a very good article, congratulations.
However, in Elizabeth’s article “Starting from
Cold”, there is no acknowledgement of the late
Roy Cowan as the inventive potter/ceramicist/
engineer who invented the pot and jet burner. It
should be to him that an accolade is due.
Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park.
Kelvin Bradford
This park overlooks Shigaraki town which is
‘Japanese Heartland Ceramics.’ Shigaraki town
has a 1200 year history and is one of the original
six great historic kiln sites.
Today it has a population of 14000 and is
located about an hour and a half from Kyoto. The
Shigaraki Cultural Park was founded on the basis
of this history with the aim of providing a site for
creative work interfacing with ceramic resources
around the world.
There are 3 magnificent facilities located in the
park which covers some 40 acres: ‘The Museum
of Contemporary Art’, ‘The Exhibition Hall of
Industrial Ceramics’ and ‘The Institute of Ceramic
Studies’ which gives training to promising
ceramic artists and was opened in 1990.
The Study Center is of particular interest and
offers the following programmes:
Artist in Residence (selection is by application)
which has two categories:
i) The Studio Artist (3 months -1 year duration)
age 20-50 years
ii) Short Term Studio Artist (1-3 months)
Guest Artist: by invitation only, age 30-50 years,
period of study one month sponsored.
Artists are required to pay kiln/studio fees/
and pay for their own materials and rental
accommodation. There is a dormitory containing
10 single rooms, each equipped with a bathroom
and kitchen adjacent to the Institute.
The facilities available are extraordinary with a
variety of electric gas/and wood fired kilns.
Each artist is provided with a space of 9 square
metres, with wheels and tables for larger works,
pallets, forklifts, glaze and plaster rooms.
One of the unique features of the Study Center is
that there is no established curriculum. Artists are
free to plan their own course of work and study.
Many visiting artists create works that would
not by normally possible in their own studio
environment. Two artists from NZ have already
studied at the institute.
Costs: to rent a studio and dormitory for one
month is around Yen 55,000 which is $NZ900 add on materials and food costs.
The Park itself is quite picturesque dotted with
sculptures created by former visitors. The
exhibition hall always has interesting shows,
recently a retrospective of Hans Coper. Nearby
in the town are numerous ceramic companies
creating many types of ware. Shigaraki is still very
much a country town and is without doubt one
of the most interesting places for an artist to visit.
The weather in the area is known to be extreme
so anyone contemplating studying should avoid
the summer or winter highs and lows.
Kelvin Bradford is a potter
working at Puhoi where he has
established the
Puhoi Ceramic Gallery
Potters interested in the
Shigaraki Ceramic Park
should look at their
and also the Shigaraki town
Toby Twiss is holding an exhibition of Letters of the Alphabet interpreted figuratively, exquisitely modelled;
100 pieces in all, about 20cm high - to equal the number of tiles in a Scrabble set.
This one shows the letter “Y”. Earthenware with a cream crackle glaze, boiled in tea to stain the crackle.
Toby’s grandfather was the inventor of the “Twiss burner” a diesel kiln burner used by potters in the 70s, and
his grandmother was a potter then too. Jonathan Grant Galleries, 280 Parnell Rd until early October.
The Letter
Maureen with her
catch of the day
Archaeological Surprise
Maureen Alison is
a Waikato potter
and another of the
hardworking and
energetic Waiclay team.
The photos in this
publication vary a lot in
quality, but that’s what
was available and I am
grateful to those who took
the trouble to send them
in. When you are in the
middle of a earthquake,
or rocking around on the
Med, you don’t have time
to set up studio shots.
Strangely, for a pottery
magazine, this one has
very few photos of pots.
I am reliant on your
input here; send in your
latest work or pieces in
exhibitions in your area.
The ideal size is at least
1 MB - these reproduce
and print well.
sending in what you have
available and I will try
to use those that suit the
And if they seem a
bit fuzzy, dear reader,
consider that it may not
be the fault of the photo.
Maureen Alison, Waikato
On a recent trip to Turkey, Croatia and Greece,
while sailing on a 110 year old tall ship in the
Mediterranean Sea, imagine my delight, and the
crew’s surprise, to find the neck of a pot caught
on our anchor pulled up from 40 meters. Pots
found in this area are estimated to be 450 BC.
While visiting museums, in particular Keramikos
Museum in Athens, it was interesting to see pots
still whole and in good condition whereas other
artefacts made from bronze and lead and steel
estimated to be the same age (2000 - 5000 years
old) were disintegrating. Makes you appreciate
the permanence of clay and the work that potters
are doing today. Keramikos gets its name from
Keramos, son of Dionysus and Ariadne, and
patron of the potters who had their workshops
This edition of CQ, sadly, seems to feature a lot of shards ....
Kurt Vonnegut said something once along the lines of:
“Archaeology is a science whose main success has been
in showing that mankind has been a maker and breaker of
crockery since time immemorial”.

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