Michael Trumic 1928-2012
Mirko (Michael) Trumic arrived in New Zealand from a war-torn Yugoslavia in 1950 – to Dunedin which was, in his words, ‘Not quite the tropical Gauginesque milieu I had imagined’. As a sophisticated, educated (two years of medical school before the war intervened) art-aware European, Trumic made friends with another European war escapee, painter, Rudy Gopas and the two made many trips together drawing and making sense of their new homeland. Both moved to Christchurch where they became central to a lively arts and intellectuals circle and Gopas was lecturer at Ilam. Trumic found his way to Yvonne Rust and realised that 3D was more to his liking. In 1960 Trumic founded Several Arts’ gallery where he ignored any art/craft divisions and simply showed work he admired. The gallery was successful and many got an exhibiting start there, including Warren Tippett. Trumic developed his personal pottery, at night and on weekends, during the years that he ran Several Arts. While he mainly stayed with what had the audience of the time, that of pieces for a domestic situation, his style, whether working at vessels or figuration was modernist, forms were strong and often simplified, uncluttered by anything that took away from form. Not for Trumic any bready textures, erupted inclusions in clay body or un-detailed edges and endings. There is a beautiful, tessha-glazed facetted bottle in Canterbury Museum’s collection that is also pictured in Cone Ten Down, p.89.
Trumic was enticed to return to Dunedin once Several Arts closed so as to teach at the School of Art’s ceramics course where he stayed from mid-70s until the 90s. As a personality and teacher he was vigorous, opinionated and engaging of discussion. He thrived on discourse and while he could reduce a student to tears, he also was early to lift them up again. He has been a most powerful influence on a large segment of NZ ceramics, particularly in the South Island where he has travelled many times teaching workshops in his early days and includes many in his list of successful former students including Chris Weaver and Christine Boswijk. In 1989 he was awarded an Honorary Diploma of Fine Arts by Otago Polytechnic SofA.
He lived with his partner, Wendy, in Loburn, Canterbury where their tree lined property and hand-hewn living accommodations and studio offered a warm secure refuge on cold days, there was always a spot to escape the wind and from which he still enjoyed to engage in discourse and debate. He was 84.