Three Ceramic Artists: Pamella Annsouth, Anneke Borren, Jenny Shearer
15 April - 3 June 2018
Three Ceramic Artists features three senior ceramic artists Pamella Annsouth, Anneke Borren and Jenny Shearer who share 50 years of friendship and a great passion for their medium of clay, which flowered during the pioneering New Zealand Studio pottery movement of the 1970s, now known as ‘the golden years of clay’.
Anneke Borren has written that ‘in the 1970s and 80s, the New Zealand Studio Pottery movement became world-renowned. This was due in part to the Fletcher Brownbuilt Pottery Award (later known as the Fletcher Challenge Ceramics Award) that ran from 1977 to 1998. The Fletcher Brownbuilt exhibitions were internationally regarded as one of the three top ceramic exhibitions alongside Mino in Japan and Faenza in Italy. Over the decades New Zealand forged the reputation of having some of the best and most creative potters in the world’. It was in this context that these three ceramic artist’s work developed, while each developed and formed their own unique voice.
Pamella Annsouth has worked as a professional in clay for over 40 years. Her interest in pottery started when she studied fine arts at Hutt Valley High School, tutored by renowned teacher James Coe. ‘He was part of that whole wonderful drive, started by Clarence Beeby and Gordon Tovey, who were nurturing art in schools and basically gave breath to the renaissance of New Zealand art and crafts, with an emphasis on true teaching... developing the original mind’.
She recalls one part of an exam where 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. I just fell in love with the medium at that point’. She enjoys modelling, sculpting, slabwork, wheelwork, and also life drawing and painting.
Since she was 12 Anneke Borren has passionately pursued the single course of being a potter, improving, changing, experimenting and growing. She arrived in New Zealand in 1963, as a 16-year-old, already a burgeoning potter. ‘I call myself a story-teller in Clay and therefore align myself with Anthropology, with how human beings and their tools have evolved over the millennia’.
Born in Holland, Anneke’s European heritage has informed her practice as a potter, in direct contrast with the Anglo-Oriental aesthetic which dominated New Zealand pottery of the 1960s and 1970s. Anneke has applied the quintessentially Dutch technique of painting on the dry unfired glaze for much of her work throughout her 50 years of working with clay, then reinvented it in a contemporary style. This difficult technique was made famous by Delft pottery in the 17th and 18th centuries. Anneke even worked in the Royal Dutch Delft factory for a while in 1967 but now her work is described as ‘New Zealand Delft’, a term coined by Quartz museum director Rick Rudd.
Jenny Shearer says ‘Working with clay has been the passion of a lifetime for me. I have been working as a potter for over 40 years. I enjoy working in fine white clay and am influenced by the Japanese Aesthetic’. She studied Ceramics at the U.K. Gloucester School of Art 1961-62, but really got started in 1971 when her husband David built a large kiln on their steep hillside property in Brooklyn, Wellington, which she somehow managed to fill regularly alongside raising four small girls. She started showing regularly and became President of the Wellington Potters Association and on the committee of the N.Z. Craft Council. This led to a trip to Japan and Thailand and her starting to specialize in porcelain, making thin-walled translucent pots. From the late 80s they lived the potter’s lifestyle in Coromandel, then returned to Wellington. Since her husband died in 2001 Jenny has continued working with a 15cu kiln ,and continued to be very involved in the Wellington Potters Association as Artist in Residence and President of the NZ Academy of Fine Arts.