Chance find puts pot­tery on show

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By CATHERINE REISS

A cafe is be­com­ing a hub for Mt Al­bert artists by of­fer­ing up its walls and cab­i­net space for small ex­hi­bi­tions.

Catherine Fookes has worked at Cos­set for three years.

She’s an artist her­self and wanted to en­gage with the cre­ative types she saw com­ing through its doors.

Her idea is not com­mer­cially driven but gives artists a chance to try out some ex­per­i­men­tal work in a small space. It’s called Pa­per/Cup­board and the lat­est ex­hibitor was dis­cov­ered quite by chance.

Fookes was at for­mer Pa­per/Cup­board con­trib­u­tor Jay Hol­lows’ Mt Al­bert home when some­thing spe­cial caught her eye.

‘‘I like to look at what peo­ple have on their walls and shelves. Jay’s home is full of other peo­ple’s art­work so I was ask­ing who made what.’’

Some brightly glazed blue and green pieces of pot­tery stood out.

She was sur­prised to learn they were made by 77-yearold John Kelly – Hol­lows’ fa­ther-in-law.

Kelly taught pot­tery through com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion classes at sec­ondary schools for years, but that ended af­ter the gov­ern­ment fund­ing was cut in 2009.

‘‘It’s one of the stu­pid­est de­ci­sions that the gov­ern­ment has made,’’ he says.

‘‘All those years I was teach­ing, no class was ever can­celled for lack of num­bers. You do need the right fa­cil­i­ties for pot­tery, but the gov­ern­ment doesn’t think it’s worth­while.’’

He never had his own kiln and the few pieces that he made for his own en­joy­ment were given away to friends. Not want­ing to profit from us­ing the schools’ equip­ment, he never sold or ex­hib­ited his work.

A com­puter pro­gram­mer by trade, Kelly only be­came in­ter­ested in pot­tery af­ter at­tend­ing an even­ing class him­self many years ago. It was his first artis­tic en­deav­our but he later also dis­cov­ered he could paint.

‘‘I started by do­ing por­traits of my kids.

‘‘The thing about paint­ing is you can get car­ried away with it. You start some­thing in the morn­ing and then it’s 5pm and you haven’t eaten any­thing.

‘‘I do think art should be en­cour­aged,’’ he says.

Cre­ative space: Artist Jay Hol­lows, cu­ra­tor Catherine Fookes and pot­ter John Kelly at Cos­set, be­neath a series of work by Ge­of­frey Heath.

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