While travelling Scandinavia and Japan I fell in love with ceramics, and felt so intrigued to give wheel throwing a go. I had recently moved back to New Zealand after living and working in Liverpool St in London, and I craved a slower life. My husband and I moved to Whangamata on the Coromandel peninsula, and I had started a cleaning business. My new life gave me an open mind to new careers and opportunities. With little money spare, I saw that Laughing Pottery in Waihi were doing wheel-based lessons. I signed up for a lesson and immediately fell in love. I was actually teasing Andrew during the lesson saying, “This is awesome! I should’ve got in touch to be your apprentice!'” And amazingly, while I was there, his apprentice came in and handed in her resignation. I don’t know whether it was luck, fate, or being in the right place at the right time. Either way, I am incredibly grateful to Andrew and Ann for their wisdom, kindness, and for taking me on. It was one of the best years of my life.
What do your pieces mean to you, on both a personal and professional level?
This is a great question. Personally, I feel like the pots have filled a void. They’re an expression of my soul, my intention, and I am able to tell stories through them. Professionally, they challenge me, I have only scraped the surface of where I want to go and what I can learn with pottery. My story has just begun, and I’m excited to see where it’s going to lead me.
Did you ever feel discouraged throughout your journey as a ceramic artist?
Definitely, but that’s human nature. I’ve discovered that I naturally put myself down as a way to justify how I feel. It’s not healthy, and it’s something that I’m working on. I love my job though, that uplifts me and most of the time it blocks out any negative thoughts.
Do you ever get artistically stuck?
Funnily enough it’s when I have spare time that I get stuck. Running a business, making the product, making time for relationships, renovating a house and trying to fill my bucket is a busy lifestyle. But I think that’s when I am most productive. I get into the flow of what needs to be done, and focus on what the next thing to do is. Once I’ve completed the cycle from making to final firing, I start again. Once orders are completed I’m left with some time to myself to expand on my ideas, create new glazes, designs and products. It’s often hard to get started, and hard to pick up ideas that are just a scribble on a piece of paper or an obsession with a colour; time is a real luxury when you’re self-employed.
While travelling Scandinavia and Japan I fell in love with ceramics, and felt so intrigued to give wheel throwing a go.
When customers order one of your pieces, what is the biggest challenge you face?
If it’s a custom design, I just hope they like what I’ve done! So much of the process and finished product are left up to the kiln. You can plan, test and trial how it’s going to look but really, until you do that final firing, you won’t see the finished result. It’s the part I have no control over, but I kind of love that. It’s bittersweet.
What has been the peak of your career so far?
This is an interesting question as I’ve only been touching clay for two years and it really depends on how you measure your success. Is it determined by a magazine article, or something you’ve achieved in becoming better at your practice. For me, making 250 travel mugs in 13 days for Amano’s staff Christmas gift was an achievement. Or in recent days I’ve been upping the amount of clay I’ve been throwing on the wheel to 6kg and have had some successful throws. My new goal is to comfortably throw 10kg by the end of the year. Working with Wither Hills on the launch of its new syrah and merlot varietals has been fantastic too.
Tell us how your recent partnership with Wither Hills came about?
The wonderful team at Wither Hills admired my work, found me online, and approached me. The fact that I made and crafted my pieces in Hawke’s Bay, where the grapes in the red wines are grown, was a bonus. This meant there was a really genuine connection.
What was the inspiration behind the ceramics you created to celebrate the launch of Wither Hills’ new syrah and merlot?
We came up with the idea to make a special blend of Te Awanga scoria, found on the beach next to where the Wither Hills grapes are grown in the Hawke’s Bay, to create a unique range of tableware that could be enjoyed with a glass of red over the winter season.
Have you tried the new wines?
Yes! I love them! I feel like Wither Hills is the perfect partner for me to work with. The merlot is an easy pick if you are wanting something smooth for an after-work drink, warm, plum flavours that you want to savour. A good go-to. The syrah was a little more complex and peppery. I think it would be a great wine to match with your favourite homecooked meals. Both proud wines in their own way, I didn’t have a preference.
What are your goals for the near future?
I own and run a small studio and store called ‘morganmade’ in the art deco quarter of Napier, where I make my pots in the window, sharing the creative process with the public. I want to expand on my pottery lessons, run a few workshops to help people understand the making process a little more, and create a few new ranges before summer gets here. I’m feeling very inspired by the Mediterranean at the moment.