North Shore Times : January 11th 2011
14 NORTH SHORE TIMES, JANUARY 11, 2011 NEWS Cnr Northcote Road & Mary Poynton Cres, Takapuna 489-6738 - Restaurant 919-2829 (For the information of members & their guests) Oasis Bistro Open for Lunch & Dinner - Seven Days A Week Entertainment Friday nights: Friday 14th January -- Jam Cam -- Karaoke Friday 21st January -- Johnny Geee -- Karaoke Friday 28th January -- Jam Cam -- Karaoke Rebel Bowls -- Monday Nights Poker - Wednesday Nights Monster Meat Raffles -- Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays Member Draws -- Fridays & Saturdays Takapuna RSA & Social Club 3064858AK stardome.org.nz Bookings Essential - 09 624 1246 Suits 5 -12 Years. $10 Child / $ 7 Adult Summer School Holiday Sessions January 10 th - 28th 10 am & 1pm Each Weekday TimeOut Advertising Feature Life of a pioneering potter Peter Stichbury's name might not be on everyone's lips but his mugs might have been. Reporter Hinerangi Vaimoso and photographer Simon Watts visit one of New Zealand's pottery giants Dynamic duo: Peter and Diane on the deck of his old home studio. Pot plants: One-off pots that didn't quite make the cut. Tea time: There are 52 steps to making a Stichbury teapot including his handmade cane handles. Queues of people would line the long driveway of Peter Stich- bury's Auckland home just to get their hands on his work. It was the 1970s. The revol- ution of liberation and individu- ality that had started in the 60s was now in full swing. Kiwis liked experimentation, they liked life a little left of cen- tre and they were well over the floral teacups of the 50s. That's what made the annual open day on the back lawn of New Zealand's most prolific pot- ter and his wife Diane's Manu- rewa home so appealing. They'd send out at least 1000 invites and for seven weeks leading up to the first Sunday of December, life for the whole family would be flat tack''. The open days were great. People used to come and do their Christmas shopping and meet up with friends,'' Diane says. We'd have all our family here helping out, even the chil- dren, just so we could swan around and say hello to every- one.'' Diane's legendary scones were always a hit,'' Peter adds. The couple worked tirelessly at Peter's home studio making thousands of pots, teacups, bowls and plates to keep up with demand. We'd be carrying load after load to the kiln and I remember just being so tired I couldn't walk any more,'' Diane says. While the Stichbury name might not seem familiar at first glance, images of his work are likely to trigger fond memories of a classic Kiwi upbringing. More than 50 years after starting his career he's still highly regarded as New Zealand's most prolific potter. Now at 86 he's finally retired and let the clay dry up. His work might have come to an end but his reputation is still strong in the art world. Some of his favourite pieces are now exhibited at Papa- kura's new museum. They're also on display at Te Papa in Wellington for the next two years. The couple still has a giggle when they hear Peter described as a pioneer but when you wander through their 60s mod- ernist home and see pictures he's taken of pottery being used as far away as Nigeria, you can see why the title rings true. When we first started out in this industry, people didn't know anything. There were no books, there was no one to ask. You would just experiment and see what happens,'' Diane says. Peter's acknowledged as a leading figure in the develop- ment of studio pottery in New Zealand, thanks to a lifetime of constantly pushing the bound- aries, developing new methods and never settling for anything with the tiniest of cracks. Yes, I'm a perfectionist,'' he says proudly as he squints to find the small crack that made one pot, sitting in his garden, unworthy of being sold. You've got to be involved and do everything yourself to be happy.'' The Stichburys lived and breathed pottery as a way of life. At teachers college in 1946, Peter was chosen to be a part of a group to receive special train- ing with the arts. It was an era when a new philosophy in art and craft was emerging and it introduced him to clay model- ling and wheel work. The couple moved to Ardmore in 1951 where Peter was assist- ant art lecturer at Ardmore Teachers College. He was given the freedom to develop a pottery programme with a creative and experimental approach. He won the prestigious Association of New Zealand Art Societies fellowship in 1957 which helped him learn more from the international leaders of the studio pottery movement. They travelled to St Ives, England, where Peter worked alongside Bernard Leach and Japanese potter Shoji Hamada. Then they headed to Nigeria to work with English potter Michael Cardew. Back in New Zealand in 1959, Peter got to work. His experi- ments in stoneware resulted in recipes using a mixture of com- mercial and local clays and with his oil-fired kiln at Ardmore he used glazes not possible before his pre-fellowship days. Diane says there were no how-to books for potters and Peter would spend much of his time recording his every step. Looking through the stack of log books in which he kept all the firing records is like perus- ing the pages of the world's most experimental chefs. It's a world of experience he's shared with others right up until this year. Peter was still teaching one class a week at the Auckland Studio Potters Society until October. But he decided it was time to give it up after suffering a health problem. They both have fond memories of the buzz there used to be in the busy home stu- dio but admit a quieter life is enjoyable too. Peter now spends his days making violins and cellos for his two grandchildren, a skill he learned from friend and violin maker Ian Sweetman. Diane, who dubs herself a potter's mate, still keeps busy with family, running around after her grandchildren and weaving blankets on the loom her husband made her. And when they manage to get a spare afternoon, they like to sit in the lounge, bask in the sun, nibble on a batch of Diane's legendary scones and sip tea out of his famous brown cups. Opera fashion Prada, Armani, Lacroix, Gaultier, Versace, Dior, Chanel -- many of the world's leading designers have put their creativity to work on costumes for opera, ballet and theatre. So it was only a matter of time before New Zea- land designer Trelise Cooper did likewise. In March, The NBR New Zealand Opera's production of Handel's Xerxes sees Trelise Cooper move from the catwalk to the opera stage. Trelise, who openly admits to loving the theatre of fashion, has also always loved opera, so designing opera costumes was a natural progression. Xerxes has all the drama, romance, intrigue, intense love and yearning passion that makes great opera, so designing the costumes has been heaven for me,'' she says. After it was decided to home in on the baroque period in which Xerxes was written, rather than the ancient times (400BC) of the titular king, Trelise was given unlimited freedom to go either modern or period. I chose to combine the two,'' she says, so there's a contemporary feel to the garments even though their style is 18th century. What I love most about this collection is that I've been able to do embellish- ment full-on and combine that with beautiful clear colours in garments that have a bold and playful sense of theatre about them.'' Xerxes opens at The Civic in Auckland on Wednesday March 2.
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