Golden girls from the ‘golden age of pottery’ at Mahara Gallery

Media release 17 April, 2018


mr500_DSC_1162_idx19770813.jpgThree pioneering New Zealand ceramic artists from the “golden age of clay” have brought their passion for pottery and 40 years of friendship to Mahara Gallery in Waikanae.

An exhibition of work by Pamella Annsouth, Anneke Borren and Jenny Shearer opened on 14 April and will continue at the Gallery until 3 June.

Gallery Director-curator Janet Bayly says the exhibition is an opportunity for the Gallery to recognise and celebrate the art of three women whose passion for working in clay helped build New Zealand’s international reputation for studio pottery in the 1970s.

“Back then, New Zealand had an international reputation for producing some of the best and most creative potters in the world,” she said.

“Import restrictions limited what could be brought into the country and created a vibrant market for local works. Anneke Borren talks about people not being able to get enough of the work and artists selling their work practically hot from the kiln.”

The trio’s friendship was forged in these years against a background of galleries and studios.

After import controls were lifted, low-cost ceramic imports cooled the market and dramatically reduced the number of potters making a living from their art.

But Pamella, Anneke and Jenny survived the difficult times and are now relishing a renaissance in interest in the art form.”

Pamella Annsouth has been a professional ceramic artist for more than 40 years, Her interest in pottery started when she studied fine arts at Hutt Valley High School.

She recalls an exam during which she had to make a sculpture. “I hadn’t made a sculpture before and was confronted by this big tub of wonderful ochre-coloured clay and had to form a sculpture from it,” she says. “I just fell in love with the medium at that point.”

She enjoys modelling, sculpting, slabwork, wheelwork, and also life drawing and painting. Pamella has close ties with the Kāpiti Coast. Before a recent move to Manakau, north of Otaki, she lived for 20 years in Waikanae with partner and internationally-celebrated ceramic artist, the late Mirek Smíšek.

Anneke Borren was born in Holland. She arrived in New Zealand in 1963 as a 16-year-old and already a burgeoning potter. She has lived and worked in Porirua and while she still has a base in Plimmerton, she last year took to the road in a mobile home.

“I call myself a story-teller in clay and align myself with anthropology, with how human beings and their tools have evolved over the millennia,” she says.

Her European heritage is reflected in her work. She has taken the quintessentially Dutch technique of painting on the dry, unfired glaze for much of her work and reinvented it in a contemporary style. The technique was made famous by Delft pottery in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Jenny Shearer, like Pamella Annsouth, has close ties with the Kāpiti Coast.

She studied ceramics at the Gloucester School of Art in the UK from 1961-62, but really got started in 1971 when her husband built a large kiln on their hillside property in Brooklyn, Wellington. Today she lives in Paraparaumu Beach.

“Working with clay has been the passion of a lifetime for me,” she says. “My pots are in the permanent collections of Government House, Christchurch Art Gallery, Auckland Museum, Napier Art Museum and the Dowse.

“I enjoy working in fine white clay and am influenced by the Japanese Aesthetic.”

A trip to Japan and Thailand led to her specializing in porcelain, making thin-walled translucent pots and living for a time the potter’s lifestyle in Coromandel.



Issued by Mahara Gallery

Media contact: Janet Bayly, Director-Curator, phone, 04 902 6242.

Photo: The three potters at the exhibition opening – from left, Pamella Annsouth, Anneke Borren and Jenny Shearer.