Authors : David Craig and Gregory O'Brian
Potter extraordinaire, conservationist, railway enthusiast and iconoclast Barry Brickell is one of New Zealand’s most important ceramicists. His exuberant and elemental, warts-and-all pots and sculptures pulse with a humour and sexuality rare in New Zealand craft or art. From the 1950s, with his friend and mentor Len Castle, Brickell became a central figure in Auckland’s pottery scene, leading the development of a distinctive indigenous ceramic style. Alongside the early commissions he received for domestic pots, mugs and jugs from local artists and bohemians, he became well known for his unusual sculptural forms and his use of coarse local clays (notoriously stolen in night raids from various sites around Auckland) and salt glazes. And as his reputation as potter and kiln-master grew, so too did his homegrown narrow-gauge railway at Driving Creek in the Coromandel, which with its sculpted hillsides and human detritus, remains his largest and most powerful work.
In essays by David Craig and Gregory O’Brien and with both newly commissioned photographs by Haru Sameshima and historic images, His Own Steam: The Work of Barry Brickell charts Brickell’s career in its entirety and in the context of his life and times, timed to coincide with a survey exhibition of the same name at The Dowse Art Museum. To begin, an essay by David Craig sketches out Brickell’s history and career, then takes us through crucial themes, preoccupations and forms in his work, from sustaining domesticware to the influences of the medieval grotesque and Pacific and Sepik motifs; from realistic murals to bodily ‘morphs’. Here Brickell’s personal preoccupations with energy and engineering, the body and conservation, are made clear. His most well-known forms, for example, the ‘spiromorphs’, are large-scale spiral creations built from coiled clay, which twist and unfold in curves that parallel the spirals of his railway.
Hardback, 218 pages
Dimensions: 250mm x 200mm
Publication date: 2013
Publisher: Auckland University Press
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