Are you resting on some very dilapidated laurels?

So wonders Eloise Kitson – doyenne of Masterworks Gallery, weary of fending off likely clients who are looking for interesting, handmade, functional tableware. Seems there is a new wind blowing and a new market opening where clients are seeking the original, the unique and the individual for their dinner party table and for everyday sparkle and enjoyment in use.  Eloise does not want to turn any more away with just a ‘sorry, none around’.

So, to this end she has instituted a competition to see if there is some good new and fresh work out there that speaks confidently that it was conceived and made this century. So, no Cardew clones or Rie replicas; no point in rolling out those shino tea-bowls or a dish with that ubiquitous 4-3-2-1 limestone, unless you are doing something from the 21st century with them in which case – how very exciting that could be – history revisited and reconfigured! Anything is fair game – this is, after all, a post, post-modern era. Why not approach, not through what we know well but via changes in eating habits/diet in this new century? What or how do we eat now that we didn’t back in the 1960s for much work seen contemporarily manifests as if conceived and made then. But Eloise would be equally content with simply new form/surface for some familiar functions.

We have long concentrated upon the decorative piece – the largely non-functional vessel (but with elaborated surface in some way), the ‘sculpture’ (but really ‘object’ as most has little to do with what goes on in sculpture) – those dust-catching personal statements for which the average home has limited space. But tableware – there is almost always room for an extra serving platter in the cupboard, mug or teapot for the shelf, candelabra for the table centre or an extra bowl for holding lemons or red onions on the kitchen bench simply because they look great sitting there.

Eloise insists on utility and the contemporary in the hope this will stimulate fresh thinking and production in our field. There will be an exhibition in the front, most prominent space of her gallery and a prize. It happens early next year so you have time. She is sole arbiter and adds that if nothing much is entered all will be abandoned without a second thought as she doesn’t consider she should show second rate work as this would do nothing for the artists in her gallery stable.

Masterworks has taken a useful leadership role in recent times by instituting areas in the gallery such as their ThinkSpace and a vigorous exhibition programme. They put in much effort and constructive thought to keep things lively in the applied arts field.

This is a new venture and one worthy of consideration and support. We have rich histories in this area. It would be good to see them honoured by a positive response.

Look to their website for more information.



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5 responses to “Are you resting on some very dilapidated laurels?

  1. Suzy Dunser

    Three cheers for Eloise! The rumours of a renewed interest in handmade functional ceramics have been floating around for awhile, but it’s very encouraging to hear it from someone dealing with potential buyers. And that she is taking the initiative to put on a competition is fantastic. Hopefully it will give not only me but other functional ceramicists the motivation to focus wholeheartedly on what we love – form and surface in a functional object – and produce some great work for the show.

    • Great blog. Very interesting to learn about this market demand. We hope the challenge can be met and to see a great range at a future Masterworks exhibition. We have promoted on Craft Aotearoa’s facebook page.

      Of the 435 responses in the 2012 New Zealand Craft Survey so far, we can confirm there is strong interest in contemporary handmade and functional objects. (

  2. I’m having trouble finding it on the Masterworks website, anyone got a direct link to the details?

    • Suzy Dunser

      I think it was just sent out as an e-mail so far, details coming later. Here is the text of the announcement:

      Is this the Last Supper?
      Domesticware competition 2013
      Masterworks Gallery is delighted to announce an exciting project aimed at invigorating the contemporary domesticware scene in the field of ceramics.
      A 21st century ethos has permeated most sectors of the contemporary craft sector but to our knowledge has yet to fully manifest itself in the realm of domesticware. With the growing trend in the handmade we believe that bespoke 21st century domesticware has a real place and value in our society. With this in mind we are initiating a nationwide competition to foster domesticware for the 21st century.
      At Masterworks we believe it is important to encourage the growth and development of craft or to use the words of American ceramics writer and former gallery owner Garth Clark to “…encourage craft into the 21st century aesthetically speaking…” We do not believe that a 21st century aesthetic should deny the vessel or function. Some exceptional examples in this field on an international level are Prue Venables (Australia), Betty Woodman (USA) and Heather Mae Erickson (USA), whose work, although some now positioned as installations, did start out as functional works for use. As a key player on the New Zealand craft scene we feel it is important to encourage and foster excellence in this sector.
      This project and competition is entitled: Is this the Last Supper? – A comment on the future of domesticware if it does not evolve. We are hoping that the resulting exhibition of finalists/highlights in August 2013 can be renamed: This is not the Last Supper, but only time will tell!
      Masterworks is calling for submissions from all emerging and established makers in the field of ceramics, please see details below:
      Submission requirements:
       Submissions must be functional domesticware for the 21st century. This should be a combination of
      form and surface.
       New work to have been made in last 12 months.
       High resolution images and dimensions of pieces for selection.
       CV and artist statement.
       All of the above requirements must be fulfilled for a submission to be valid.
       Submissions due Thursday 28th February 2013.
      Selection process:
       Physical works will be required for stage two of the selection process by Thursday 21st March
       Artists will be notified by Thursday 14th March 2013 if their physical submission is required.
       Final decision of selected artists will be announced Thursday 4th April 2013.
       All decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into.
      Depending on the number and standard of entries, our intention is to award a single winner with an exhibition opportunity and a small cash prize. Details will be confirmed at a later date so check our website for more details.

    • Our press release was sent out on our letterhead with contact details included but these might have been lost in any forwarded communication but please find them below.
      PO Box 47794
      Auckland 1144

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