Show pro­motes pot­tery and pays trib­ute to late Val

Hauraki-Coromandel Post - - News - Ali­son Smith

In­ter­na­tional cal­i­bre and novice pot­ters of the Hau­raki-coro­man­del have cre­ated a last­ing trib­ute to one of their own, whose un­timely death came be­fore the com­ple­tion of her work.

Val Bennett, from Paeroa, had been work­ing tire­lessly on a piece to en­ter in the show Clear as Mud, which draws to­gether pot­ters in an area with a long as­so­ci­a­tion with the art form.

Sadly Val passed away sud­denly in Septem­ber and didn’t get to fin­ish the piece for the show. In­stead she will have an award given in her name.

Val was aged in her 80s and had worked in clay for more than 40 years.

Friend and fel­low pot­ter Dianne Ca­ton says in re­cent times Val started do­ing hand work and found an ur­gency to cre­ate in this way, work­ing on a so-called slab tech­nique for the bust that will be a high­light of the show.

Dianne of Ca­ton Pot­tery on Canon St or­gan­ised the show with Waihi’s An­drew Kil­lick, of The Laugh­ing Pot­ter on Rose­mont Rd, sim­ply to pro­mote pot­tery.

“We dis­cov­ered there were so many pot­ters in the area. We have got 113 pieces which is phe­nom­e­nal. I never knew this many pot­ters ex­isted in this area. It’s re­ally go­ing to help Waihi,” says Dianne.

An­drew and Dianne say they have pur­posely cho­sen not to com­plete Val’s work.

“We’ve fin­ished it with a sim­ple clear glaze be­cause we didn’t want to put our hands on it too much,” says An­drew.

Says Dianne: “Val’s hus­band [Roy] says she spent hours at the kitchen ta­ble metic­u­lously work­ing on this piece. Roy wanted some­one to fin­ish it, but I said no, it wouldn’t be fair on Val, it was her piece.

“We have gone ahead and glazed and fired the bust with­out do­ing any more to it and will give out the award in her mem­ory.”

The event Clear As Mud is a show fea­tur­ing the beau­ti­ful, prac­ti­cal, sculp­tural, whim­si­cal or just plain weird work of more than 20 pot­ters from novices to pro­fes­sion­als, who ex­hibit in­ter­na­tion­ally. It runs at the Waihi Arts Cen­tre & Mu­seum, Kenny St, from Oc­to­ber 23 to 26. En­try is free.

The aim is to pro­mote pot­ters, at­tract vis­i­tors to the town and add to the area’s vi­brant vis­ual arts scene.

An­drew says Waihi — and the Coro­man­del — is home to sev­eral pot­ters who ex­hibit lo­cally, re­gion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. Peo­ple stop­ping by to view the show will be amazed at the wide range of tal­ent.

The work is made from lo­cal clay, and all the pieces on dis­play will be avail­able for pur­chase, with all prof­its from each item go­ing to its maker.

“The rea­son pot­ters ended up in ar­eas in the early days is be­cause of the avail­abil­ity of the clay,” ex­plains An­drew. “The Waikato clay is ex­tremely good, that’s what we use here all the time.”

Ac­cord­ing to Te Ara En­cy­clo­pe­dia of New Zealand, Crown Lynn sourced its clay from kaoli­n­ite de­posits in the Coro­man­del Penin­sula dur­ing the late 1960s and early 1970s.

An­drew’s The Laugh­ing Pot­ter busi­ness in Waihi reg­u­larly draws peo­ple from Welling­ton and Auck­land but also brings lo­cals through its doors, to cre­ate and fire items out of clay or pur­chase a lo­cal piece of pot­tery.

An­drew adds sand from Waihi Beach to the clay, and says cus­tomers hap­pily await their be­spoke pur­chases.

He says he per­son­ally en­joys cre­at­ing do­mes­tic ware for peo­ple be­cause he be­lieves items of clay take on the en­ergy of its maker, and these items will be touched the most.

“What we’re notic­ing, es­pe­cially af­ter the Covid thing, is how many peo­ple are want­ing to come and feel things, they’re want­ing to know where things are com­ing from, and how they’re be­ing made,” he says.

“The gist of it seems to be in­stead of just go­ing to a shop and buy­ing some­thing, they’re want­ing to know more about it. We’re notic­ing that with macrame, knitting and dried flow­ers, it’s kind of like peo­ple just want to touch the ground again.”

One woman who has been work­ing at the Laugh­ing Pot­ter brought in a wine jar that her hus­band dredged out of the English Chan­nel and which dates back to the 16th cen­tury.

“It has the pot­ter’s thumb print on it,” says An­drew. “We’re mak­ing his­tory. We’re mak­ing things that ar­chae­ol­o­gists use to date things, that’s the ex­cit­ing part.”

The show is spon­sored by Ocean­gold, Cre­ative NZ, Waikato Ceram­ics, Dil­limores Waihi, Alitech Win­dow Sys­tems and 100% Waihi.

Clear As Mud runs at the Waihi Arts Cen­tre & Mu­seum, Kenny St, from Oc­to­ber 23 to 26. En­try is free.

Pho­tos / Sup­plied

The late Val Bennett work­ing with the clay that she loved so much.

Val’s piece has been glazed and fired and the award will be given out in her mem­ory.

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