Barry Brickell is one of New Zealand’s most important potters, and a major figure in the development of a distinctive, indigenous art. From his early days as a potter in the 1950s, Brickell trusted his own original wit and invention. Using coarse local clays and hybrid forms he developed a unique sensibility, which resonates with this part of the Pacific.
Exuberant and elemental, the sculptural forms he produced pulse with a humour and sexuality rare in New Zealand craft or art. His most well known forms are the Spiromorphs, large-scale spiral creations built from coiled clay. The Spiromorphs twist and unfold in expansive curves and visceral ridges, drawing on the relentless energy of nature. His work resonates with his often quoted mantra—‘not the thing but how’—demonstrating his unique interest in the process of making, and the distinctiveness of a local voice.
This exhibition, which spans over 60 years of making, is the first significant survey exhibition of Brickell’s work, and the touring exhibition brings together approximately 50 works, drawing on the sizable holdings of both The Dowse Art Museum and Brickell’s own collection, together with key works from around New Zealand.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a major publication on Barry Brickell’s work, published by the Auckland University Press. His Own Steam has been curated by The Dowse Art Museum Senior Curator Emma Bugden and sociologist David Craig, in close partnership with Barry Brickell.
11 April – 31 May 2015
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Photos: Jennifer French