Chris Dunn – Ceramic Artist Wellington
I am working in two main areas - vessels decorated with a mosaic of glazes and lustre fired in an electric kiln and pit, barrel and saggar firing. I have experience working with a wide range of kilns and glazing techniques. My inspiration derives from bold modern agriculture to our beautiful unique landscapes of New Zealand.
I sell my work at a number of galleries throughout New Zealand and in Canberra Australia. I’ve had work selected for the Wellington Potters’ Exhibition, the New Zealand Potters’ regional and national exhibitions, exhibitions held at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington, galleries throughout New Zealand and in Canberra, Australia. I’ve been the selector and guest exhibitor for the Wellington Potters Annual exhibition Ceramicus 2021 and the Hutt Art Society Potters annual exhibition 2019. I also worked as the resident potter at the Wellington and Canberra Potters Societies, and as a mentor to developing ceramic artists at the Otaki Pottery Group on the Kapiti Coast. I conduct workshops teaching the techniques of pit and barrel fired ceramics.
From 1976 to 1996 I was a full-time craft potter. I learnt working with Hardy Browning on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand in the late 1970s. Hardy had been a coal miner. When the mines closed in the late1960s he learnt make pottery with Yvonne Rust. Yvonne, a matriarch of NZ ceramics and an art teacher at a local high school, set up a re-training programme for miners. Yvonne and Barry Brickell (the patriarch) helped Hardy build his first diesel fired kiln for salt glazing. I was very fortunate to work with Hardy. He was a self-sufficient potter; we dug clay and made glazes from local materials. I learnt much from his practical and intelligent approach to problem solving.
The local community and craftspeople helped me to establish my first pottery in the Grey River Valley. My first studio was in an old rented farmhouse where we built a 60 cubic foot wood fired kiln. Three years later we moved, and built a house and studio called “Candlelight Pottery”. I worked with an electric kiln and a wood-fired kiln, and developed my surface decorating skills including the use of lustre. I trained two people who became full-time craft potters. I was invited to be a founding member of a very successful cooperative, the “Hokitika Craft Gallery”. I exhibited and sold my work in galleries and retail outlets and exhibited nationally and in Australia.
We moved to Palmerston North in the North Island in 1990 because my wife, a GP, wanted to train to become a medical specialist. I continued potting and child-care till 1996 when, frustrated by the urban environment I completed a part-time post-graduate degree in Sociology. I then worked as a tutor, lecturer and research assistant at Victoria University in Wellington, and in industry training. I followed this path until 2014 when I returned to pottery at the Wellington Potters Society.
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