Whanganui Double.

Two new pieces of News for the New Year! (and both out of Whanganui…)

New Zealand Potter: A partial archive.

Published by Small Bore Books and edited by Emma Bugden, this anthology of extracts from the first ten years of the New Zealand Potter magazine covers Emma’s selection of the most significant contributions to the pottery scene, via its only publication, from 1958, when it was beginning to fizz, through to 1967, when things had built up a considerable head of steam, (to use Brickells phrase), and potters and their work were making their mark as a new culture, with a public and in the broader art world.

Emma has divided the compilation into themes, or areas of activity if you like. First is A Call to Arms  where positions are staked out and action called for. Then, Being Here documents the community and includes profiles on makers and galleries. Coming Here covers some of the distinguished visitors to our community. Going There covers travelogues sent to the editor by potters off-shore and finally, Doing It is a reflection on the vital-at-the-time practical side of the magazine offering advice and experience from some of the pioneers.

This compilation offers a broad range of contributors, in addition to the potters themselves, and reflects a variety of views upon the nascent scene from the censorious to the complimentary. The participants in the organising committee and their roles are acknowledged as are the major contributors of opinion – for in those days opinion was freely given and often robustly stated. It delves into some questions around influences from off-shore and the resultant values that might last as well as issues around what might constitute a New Zealand style. It covers areas of commentary that are now largely absent from our contemporary scene. Healthy stuff!

The collection gives a good overview of how the early years of our pottery culture was reported and discussed via its magazine and oracle.

It is simply presented in A4 format with perfect binding and a cover design that reflects the times of its origins – as it should.  It makes an enormously useful addition to the bookshelf for anyone interested in the pottery movement. I’m sure the editor is currently enjoying a well-earned rest in the sun somewhere but copies will be available from… www.smallborebooks.com in due course, or stockists are….

Unity Books (Ak and Wellington)
Women’s Bookshop (Ak)
Parsons Library Services (Ak and national)
Te Uru (Ak)
The Dowse Shop (Wellington)
Quartz Museum of Studio Ceramics (Whanganui)



The other new item from Whanganui is news of a competition for  an “emergent practitioner in clay” to be run by the Rick Rudd Foundation and held at his Quartz Museum of Ceramics in Whanganui, and called…


 And the award is 10,000 dollars, to be conferred triennially. 

Looking at the entry form and accompanying information the purpose is “to encourage, foster and promote excellence by makers of studio ceramics in all forms from tableware to sculpture and from traditional to avant-garde”.

Entry is a little different than usual in that it must be in the format of  printed images of up to 20 works and up to five extra images of details may be added for clarity. Additionally a USB stick containing those images is also required. Of those twenty works ONE must be identified as the work intended for exhibition and its dimensions, medium and title. Entrants are also to submit a biography/CV and a statement on their work. All works to be for sale made and they will deduct 25% commission. It is acquisitive. No entry fee.

The work must have been made after 30 June 2017 and entry date is June 30 2018.

Judgement will be made by the Trustees of the Foundation – Rick Rudd, Paul Rayner (artist and gallerist) and Tom Seaman (collector).

There are a set of conditions, all perfectly reasonable and information can be obtained by email from quartz.award@gmail.com or by telephone at 06/3485555.

Now here’s an interesting development indeed and good on Rick and his team for instigating this new event.  Ten thousand dollars will be a more than useful boost to anyone “yet to achieve widespread recognition in ceramics within NZ or overseas”, (as the information says), and presumably invest in their career, (although no criteria in this regard are offered – again, generous).

One could ask what is emergent? (Internationally it usually means someone within ten years of obtaining their last qualification in the field, but that’s a hard one for NZ for obvious educational reasons).

And what is “widespread recognition”?  Won a prize in a competition or two? Exhibited regionally or nationally? Articles in ceramic journals sourced internationally? Or nationally? Images in the local paper? A facebook page or personal website?

And recognised by whom? (The public? The ceramic community or the wider world of art such as the collections of public institutions?)

I have asked these questions and, as you’d expect, there are no easy answers. I am told, “Trustees have deliberately made the eligibility non-specific.   Hopefully entrants will make their own judgement whether they have ‘achieved widespread national or overseas recognition’, ie have they exhibited regularly in regional and / or national exhibitions?  Is their work recognised internationally? Entrants are expected to provide an artists biography, and the Trustees will decide from the bios if the practitioners have emerged or not”

Well, there’s a small handful whose work would be recognised in Oz but that’s probably about all as far as international recognition is concerned. We simply do not have the means to generate the sort of critical article that would promote those artists we do have with international potential. Establishing an international reputation as a maker of note requires sustained work by a range of writers in a variety of reputable journals and media plus acceptance/prizes in international exhibitions and competitions of note. Not simple. And anyway, to what benefit for an artist living here, at the bottom of the map?

No matter, the Quartz Trustees will decide whether someone qualifies as an emergent contender ”from the bios”. The exhibition that takes place will be at the Quartz Museum in Whanganui and will hold roughly 50 works so I imagine a major priority will be to put together the best show possible as it’s on at Quartz for some months. Entrants can put together their own bio and for the Quartz competition that is considered sufficient.

So, the very best of luck to all who consider themselves still emerging towards recognition. The Quartz Award will be a great step.







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