Otago/Southland Report, August 2021

Since the last AGM most of the country seemingly returned to ‘normal’ for some time but it cannot be overlooked that our potting and ceramic community has been profoundly affected by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Individuals, whether studio potters or ceramic artists, had to adjust to a new commercial reality and our Affiliated Clubs also felt the impact in various ways.

The preparations for the 60th National Diamond Jubilee came to a sudden halt with the imposed lockdown, which necessitated a postponement of the event.

With renewed energy the local organising team, Fusion 2010, set to work at the beginning of this year.  Fusion 2010 members, Neil Grant, Elise Johnston, Kate Fitzharris, Marion Familton, Jo Howard and myself, started with planning the event in detail.  One of our missions was to set up a Heritage Exhibition alongside the Contemporary Exhibition with the aim of showing the beginnings from the first studio pottery exhibition in Dunedin in 1957 and how it led to the formation of the New Zealand Society of Potters and its progression. Much searching in the archives of the Hocken Library took place. We have also planned a great full colour exhibition catalogue, a wonderful memento that marks this special exhibition.

One of my other aims was to engage the public with ‘outreach programmes’. I was able to enlist the support of van Brandenburg Architecture and local dealer galleries who put on a show of their own ceramic artists. The ceramic walkabout on Saturday morning is open to the public at no cost. It is followed by a presentation by the 60th National Diamond Jubilee Exhibition judge, Dr. Emma Bugden at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. The Otago Potters Group members have their Annual Exhibition just around the corner after the above talk, which nicely rounds off a day of full immersion in pottery and ceramics.

Equally the programme of the School of Art at the Otago Polytechnic is free on Sunday and for those who like to hone their throwing skills can enrol in a master class on Monday. The details of the programme are listed on our events page.

 Council was also involved in the planning of the event from the beginning of the year, seeking funding and sponsorship for our exhibition and the other associated events. I am very glad and appreciative of everyone’s effort and cooperation.  Ceramics NZ is now handling and organising our National Exhibitions – this takes a great deal of work off the shoulders of the regional organisers, the team of Fusion 2010, as well as any other future organisers. This new approach will also help with establishing and consolidating our standing with granting bodies and sponsors and giving us a better brand recognition. In addition, we are now able to accept entries to our exhibitions via the new website. It was a massive amount of work but we now have a website suitable for modern devices. In particular I would like to mention and thank our Executive Director, Meagan Blake, who has taken on the enormous task of overseeing it all, making grant applications and making sure our organisation kept going.

As I am writing this report we are yet again in lockdown Level 4 for nearly 2 weeks by now. It is unforeseeable how long we will be in this state but hopefully for not much longer. The entry deadline for the exhibition has now passed. I am very pleased with the support we got from our members, despite the fact that two other national competitions are coinciding with ours.

I am very much looking forward to our ceramic event in Dunedin. It is an honour to bring our National Exhibition back here and it gives me great pleasure to organise the ‘Festival of Ceramics’. Dunedin will be an exciting place to be over the next Labour Weekend and I hope I will see many of you here. We have not had a National Exhibition since the last one in Wellington and that was already three years ago. So please come to our lovely city and celebrate with us

Our milestone 60th National Diamond Jubilee Exhibition!

All the activities are listed on our website events calendar, please check it regularly for updates here

Michael Tannock workshop

Registrations for the Michael Tannock workshop at Otago Polytecnic can be made through Eventbrite here

See also the Dunedin School of Art Facebook page for details.