HOW WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO THIS TYPE OF WORK/ARTISTIC PRACTICE - AND WHAT DID YOU ENJOY ABOUT YOUR EARLY EXPLORATION OF IT?
I ﬁrst worked with clay when I was about 17, when I did a short art class at the local community centre where I grew up in Golden Bay in the South Island. I really enjoyed it, but never really thought of it as something I would do. When I was studying a Bachelor of Design as Unitec in 2006, I rediscovered clay as an artform, and this time it really grabbed me. I loved the materiality; how it changed state during the ﬁring process from something so ﬂuid and malleable to something that was so strong after it came out of the kiln. I have explored many different ways of working with clay, from building structures to experimenting with different surface carving techniques, many of which I still utilise in my practice today.
HOW HAS YOUR WORK/ARTISTIC PRACTICE CHANGED AND DEVELOPED OVER THE YEARS? WHAT FACTORS DO YOU THINK AFFECTED THIS?
The natural environment has stayed as the most consistent source of inspiration for my work, although the aesthetic, form and techniques that I use have slowly changed over the ten years that I have been working in ceramics. I think that’s due to the seemingly inﬁnite possibilities of working with clay as there is always something new to learn, and a new technique to discover. I love working with porcelain for example, as it’s so ﬁne and translucent, but I also love gritty, darker clays and adding in black volcanic beach sand, which inspires a very different body of work. We have clay on our property, so I’m excited to try and experiment with it and see what characteristics it has.
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHERE YOU WORK FROM? WHAT DO YOU FIND SPECIAL ABOUT LIVING OUT WEST?
I work from a little studio nestled in our garden that looks out onto the native bush of Waitakere ranges. We have only been here for just over a year, so it’s been really exciting to get the studio set up. I love working from a place that is so connected to the surrounding environment. My work is very much inspired by natural cycles, so living amongst the native bush and close to the wild elements of the coast keep me constantly inspired.
WHAT CAN VISITORS EXPECT TO SEE WHEN THEY VISIT YOUR STUDIO DURING OSW?
Visitors to my studio will be able to see my work at different stages of the making process. I will be demonstrating the clay carving technique that I use in my works, as well showing people how to make their own marbled slip-cast beaker, that will be ﬁred for them at a later date. I will have a range of work on display and for sale, from smaller functional pieces to larger more sculptural works. I’ll also be serving coffee, to help keep the energy levels up for visiting all the other amazing studios in the area!
NAME YOUR TOP 5 SECRET SPOTS YOU LIKE TO VISIT IN THE WAITAKERE RANGES?
We have loved visiting the Waitakere ranges since we ﬁrst moved to Auckland, and have spent many weekends exploring so many of its wild places. I think it always felt like a bit of a dream to live out in the Waitakeres, so we’re very much still settling in to the rhythm of life out here. We’re lucky to have a number of great spots on our property: a stream and little tracks in the bush, so those are deﬁnitely our secret spots!
When we do venture out we love to visit the west coast beaches. They all have a slightly different feel, so depending on the day, and the wind direction, there are many options to choose from. Te Henga beach is our favourite, we often go to take our dog for a walk and to fetch sticks in the waves; she loves it as much as us!
I like taking visitors along the Mercer Loop, the clifftop walk near Piha, as it has such great views of the coastline. If we’re feeling a little more adventurous we continue walking all the way down to Karekare and dip our toes in the ocean before the return walk back up the hill.
Photos by: Sarah Allen