Discovering contemporary New Zealand ceramists
Kiwis love getting their hands dirty, and working with clay is a popular discipline among artisan creatives looking to make functional and interesting works of art.
Ceramic products might be readily available, but if you have an eye and appreciation for good design and one-off pieces, it really comes down to those who are creating with passion and finding new ways to push the boundaries of sculpture and function in the home. Pottery is much more than terracotta planters and cheap dinnerware; it’s about handwork, the celebration of material and an expression of love for the craft. We’ve put together a selection of talented local ceramists covering a range of styles and products for the home and beyond.
Instantly recognisable for the bright and colourful patterns and focus on simple silhouettes, Wundaire is well known as the cool and casual ceramics brand originally from Brooklyn, Wellington. Owner Felicity creates stunning work that is as much a piece of art as functional pottery, and has several high profile collabs under her belt with beloved local brands. Available in stores and online for purchase, you can even attend a private workshop at her studio in Greytown and learn some of the techniques and skills so you can give it a go yourself.
Handmade at Lucy Coote’s home studio in Berhampore, Wellington, Salad Days ceramics are elegant and tactile pieces finished in minimal, earthy tones. Designed for use and longevity, the textural style of the stoneware clay is immediately eye-catching. Lucy uses a mixture of wheel thrown and hand build techniques to create her pieces, and with a focus on functional products from candle holders to soap dishes, it has never been easier to elevate your interior styling.
From clean lines to unique textured mugs, Boo celebrates the slow process of pottery, enjoying every stage of the craft from start to finish. With playful product names like ‘Tammy’ and ‘Gus’ and a love for speckled clay and clear glaze, they have everything from a quirky ‘Chain Vase’ to the oh-so-inviting chips and dip bowl for that classic Kiwi party snack. Made and fired in Wellington, Boo keeps the handcraft of ceramics alive and well in the capital.
Renee Boyd has mastered the pottery wheel to create simple, timeless designs with character abound. Working with clay appeals to her fascination with materials and process, “but also to my sense of independence as a designer” says the Auckland-based ceramist. Alongside the stunning homeware and kitchen products, you can also find beautiful art pieces in the form of ceramic wall hangings.
Based out of rural Tauranga, JS Ceramics and its sibling brand George & Co encompass a huge variety of goods for the home and garden, stocked nationwide and featuring something for everyone from minimal pottery to designer tableware featuring attractive geometric patterns. Using the slip cast production process to create delicate ceramics for everyday use at home, they also create a range of artistic and unique art tiles featuring Kiwiana motifs.
Keen eyed readers might recognise these pieces from Kowtow’s flagship Wellington store, though Gidon Bing ceramics are sold and collected worldwide. With a beautiful website and considered product photography, these elegant items take Japanese and classical influences and present them in elegant, minimalist fashion. With all manner of homewares from percolators to citrus juicers and a range of lighting and sculptural designs in different surface finishes, Gidon Bing draws inspiration from “the power and presence of reductive forms”. Check out their double walled vessels for a real treat.
Betty Chung Ceramics
Registered architect by day, ceramic artist by night, Betty Chung creates beautifully sculptural yet functional objects. Commissioned around the world by restaurants, cafes and even a 60m superyacht, her bold and colourful range has also been exhibited and sold in galleries both locally and abroad. Learn the hand build technique she uses by attending one of her workshops, or browse the pieces for sale on her website that include scented candles and jewellery.
Where form meets function, slipcast master Tim Grocott works from his home studio in Te Atatu Peninsula, turning raw clay into fine ceramics. Every Taus piece is highly refined and often the result of months of work, from hand forming to sanding, finishing and creating the moulds that allow perfect reproduction every time. Launched in 2011 with the success of his flagship hip flask, Tim has gone from strength to strength with his pièce de résistance being the recently-completed Taus chess set.
Beautifully decorated and finished ceramics in an eclectic range of finishes to suit any taste. With everything from earrings to serveware and the best ANZAC poppy brooches we’ve ever seen, Claybird Ceramics does it all. Not to be missed are the highly sought after ring cones and large mugs with oversized handles (so you can actually get a good grip on your hot beverage of choice).
Emma Badeia is a photographer and ceramist, a combination evident from the stunning imagery that accompanies her online store and captures the texture and form of her pottery just perfectly. She says “these pieces are crafted to lead an existence that doesn’t stray too far from their radiantly humble beginnings”, and it’s clear that her work is created with love and a focus on fun and creativity. Standouts include the delightful little stacking dishes and apothecary style bottles with stoppers.
Jinho Jeong ceramics bridge the gap perfectly between sculpture and homeware, characterised by simple forms and intricate geometric patterning that emboldens the shape of each piece. There are some really unique items here including the intriguing nesting bowls titled ‘Accumulation’.
Rustic and durable kitchenware, planters and sculptural vases crafted by hand to reveal the natural textures and colours of the clay. There are some really interesting forms in Kirsten Dryburgh’s collection, each one hand-thrown with hand-built touches making each piece as original as the last.
Emily Siddell and Mark Goody (ACE Firers)
Based out of a studio in Sandringham, Emily Siddell and Mark Goody came together to form ACE Firers over their shared interest in experimentation and craft. Influenced by textiles and other artistic disciplines, they are focused on making objects they want or would use themselves. From using wild clay dug from Emily's bach to 36-hour firings, these two are having a great time just doing what they love.
Photo: Everyday Needs
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Danijela Unkovich's Auckland
I was born and raised in Auckland. I’m a registered nutritionist by trade, with additional training in culinary arts. My professional background spans community nutrition, nutrition practise and workplace wellbeing.
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