I spent the first 15 years of my life on the Kapiti Coast. I remember visiting Wilf & Janet Wright's Reikorangi Potteries and Farm Park for the first time on a school trip. As a young teenager I had the chance to explore ceramics first hand whilst staying on the family farm of a friend whose mother had pottery wheels and kilns. This chance to explore and make things with clay was a defining moment that sparked my interest in ceramics.
In my early twenties I opened an antique shop on the Kapiti Coast and it was there that I met local Kapiti Coast potters Debbie Pointon, Jean Hastedt, Mirek Smisek and Wilf Wright. As a dealer in furniture and paintings I started to look for new areas to trade in. Once I started buying and selling New Zealand studio ceramics I was hooked and soon began taking pots home which started my collection.
Debbie and Jean were very supportive of this new direction and encouraged me to make pots as well as collect them. Their belief was that to be able to spot a good pot one had to fully understand the complexities of the medium. They would often provide critical feedback and loan me books and NZ Potter magazines. I would also visit Wilf and Mirek at their studios or they would pop into the shop. Wilf was a great collector as well as a maker and had great eye for the interesting or unusual. He would often recall stories from when he owned Stockton's in Wellington and imported international studio ceramics. These people became friends and it seemed only natural to collect their work.
The four potters featured in this installation have all made their mark nationally and in various ways have continued their involvement with clay. Mirek and Wilf are still making functional domestic ware and open their studios to the public. Debbie is an artist and teacher who continues to use ceramics in her practice. And after finishing potting, Jean made a career out of restoring ceramics and glass until her recent retirement. Most of these pots are used on a weekly basis and some have now been matched with a favourite recipe: Jean's lidded casserole dishes seem to make the best winter vegetable casseroles; Wilf's bowls are great for salads; while Mirek's small bowls are a favourite for soup or cereal.
The driver when I started collecting ceramics was my relationship with the potters. There are other significant Kapiti potters whose work I haven't collected because our paths never crossed. As my collection grew it began to include works by makers I didn't know. After shifting cities and countries a few times I have honed my collection down to those works I could not bear to part with, and as it happens, these are the Kapiti works that I first collected. The reason I can't part with these pots is due to my connections with their makers.
- Brian Wood
Jean Hastedt, Debbie Pointon, Mirek Smisek, Wilf Wright