Chance find puts pottery on show
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.