Author(s): Mahara Gallery
Exhibition catalogue reproducing every work in the show, with biographical and critical essays by Janet Bayly and Justine Olsen.Mahara Gallery, Kapiti Coast's District Gallery, is presenting the first-ever survey exhibition of leading Czech / New Zealand potter Mirek Smisek (b1925). Curator Gary Freemantle has selected 60 key works spanning his 60 years of production from private and public collections around New Zealand. These represent Smisek's basic forms of vases, bowls, crocks, jugs and unomi (Japanese tea-bowls). Freemantle says, Smisek's development has been characterized by its consistency and slow evolution. However over the years there are perceptible differences and a sense of growth as his work has matured. My main objective is to define the main forms and variations of glaze, shape and decorationâ€™. Smisek presents not only a stunning model of a lengthy and award-studded career as a potter, but of a creative life well-lived. He was one of numerous European migrs to New Zealand who escaped the German occupation of his homeland, interrogation by the Gestapo, and months in forced labour camps and factories. Smisek formed a strong personal philosophy of the life-affirming value of creativity and the arts as a result. Smisek started working with clay in Canberra and Sydney in the late 1940s, assisted English potter Ernie Shufflebottom briefly at Crown Lynn in Auckland, then established himself as Nelson's first working potter in the 1950s. He worked and studied with ceramic masters Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada at St Ives and in Japan in the 1960s and 70s. After import restrictions were lifted in the early 1980's many NZ potters suffered from the deluge of cheap pottery that flooded the market. Some were made redundant and others tried to redefine their work in more sculptural terms. Smisek has continued to survive and work resolutely as a potter, producing ceramic ware that people can use in a functional way but also appreciate as an object that fuses function and aesthetics. Over the past 35 years he has established 3 studio potteries on the Kapiti Coast - at Manakau, Te Horo and latterly Waikanae, where he continues to produce new work. Exhibition catalogue reproducing every work in the show, with biographical and critical essays by Janet Bayly and Justine Olsen.