• Saligia Art Gallery


Updated: Jan 16, 2019

Last night we attended an exhibition opening at Refinery Artspace in Nelson. The Potter's House was tagged - aptly - as a pottery exhibition with a twist.

Centrepiece was a large pile of broken remnants of works-gone-wrong, contributed by Nelson potters such as Sue Newitt, Sue Scobie, Michael Potter, Darryl Frost, Ali Kennedy, Ingrid Firmin, Katie Gold, Stephen Robertson and David Carson.

What a load of rubbish you say? Another example of art world banality? Not a bar of it.

All art that draws a response is worthwhile. Good art makes connections that have not been made before. Perhaps no idea is truly original but finding new ways to say old things is one pointer to what art is about.

This exhibition also drew a good crowd - exactly what a community artspace is suppose to do. Kudos to Ann Braunsteiner and the Refinery team for the idea, and for making it happen.

The work suggests the tricky business that 'nailing' an art work can be. Especially when trying to 'tame' ' fire - the extreme heat required to turn soft clay into durable masterpieces (not to mention useful tools of living).

Maybe we're romanticising things a bit but we have this faint notion that creative potters fire up the kiln with hope and anticipation, and the end of the process brings emotions ranging from elation to despair.

In that pile on the Refinery floor was a mix of almost-treasures that didn't make the cut. But for that firing mishap, touch of the dropsies, rogue element in the clay that buggered everything up or other minor misfortune - they'd have emerged with true value.

Life mirrors art, and not every little journey we set off on finds the elusive pot of gold. But we can learn from our stuff-ups ... and creating art should always be a pushing, testing, growing thing.

Poring over that pile-of-junk on the Potter's House floor was like stumbling across one of the myriad of middens around the Abel Tasman coastline. Some see a pile of crumbling shells; others take delight in imagining all that had gone before.

In the Potter's House, some viewers no doubt will see only trash. We saw treasures-in-waiting all over the place to be repurposed. So watch this space.

Among other offerings at the exhibition was a cool and quirky video/sound offering by Loren Pasquier, around breaking down the creation-deconstruction cycle. As with pottery, as with life.

And big ups from Saligia for the table of delightfully wonky and quirky hand-built pots by Martha Blanche Sidonie. Like a series of Clarke's works at Saligia which utilises handcut metal shapes placed on oil backgrounds, Sidonie's work showed an aversion to digital-age, laser-cut precision ... exploring the beauty in imperfection.

Awesome stuff all round.

pottery refinery exhibition saligia blog
A pile of almost treasures at Refinery Artspace's latest exhibition. Photo from Ann Braunsteiner.

Form and Function, aged steel and copper on oil.

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