Vases have human characteristics
A lifetime of reworking clay into shapes has been an astounding journey for one of the country’s top potters, whose work features in one of Pataka’s winter exhibitions.
Richard Parker, who lives and works near Kerikeri, has been working in ceramics since the mid-70s, and says while pottery goes in and out of fashion like anything else, New Zealand potters don’t usually get the recognition they deserve.
‘‘It’s lovely to get to the age where someone wants to do a retrospective and to see [these pieces] again, and handle them again.
‘‘This is the first time I’ve seen a lot of these pieces since they were made and sold, because quite often because of your financial needs you open the kiln and then sell them.’’
The exhibition is a collection of Parker’s irregular, quirky, expressive vases, his signature work, with the oldest in the collection made in about 1982.
Pataka education co-ordinator Margaret Tolland said it was exciting to have an artist of his significance in Pataka. ‘‘This is a small dot of his work, but it’s a good representation.’’
Parker says his vases are figurative. ‘‘They are like people, they stand with their hands on their hips and sometimes they point a foot and stand so, and other times they stand other ways, so they have a lot of attributes that humans have, and so they set up the same vibrations between them that humans do.
‘‘When you put three of them together they talk like humans do, though we don’t always know what they are saying, but it’s none of our business anyway.’’
Being able to sustain 35 years in the craft has taken dogged persistence, but it has been a privilege, he says.
‘‘I feel honoured to be a practitioner in a very ancient field of art, one that’s gone on for hundreds of thousands of years.
‘‘Working as a potter has got all the things that I always wanted, it involves a technical side, it’s got a historical side that I totally love, it’s a three-dimensional form of art – I find I need three dimensions – and it has the opportunity for lots of references like what I was just describing about referencing human form, or Chinese history.
‘‘Underlying the whole lot is that it involves taking material from nature and re-working it.’’
Richard Parker – Master of Craft is on at Pataka until August 28.
Master craftsman: Potter Richard Parker at Pataka with some of his work on display for the winter season.