Creating ‘loved objects’

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Giving unloved second-hand tableware a new purpose is a passion for a local artist.

Shannon Courtenay, of Cardrona, creates tableware sets from items she finds in secondhand stores.

A journey from coffee to ceramics was how it started for Courtenay.

While working at a cafe at the Morris and James pottery factory in Matakana in the North Island, Courtenay struck up a friendship with factory founder Anthony Morris.

‘‘I asked if I could work with him at his personal studio.’’

While studying at the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland she also worked at the studio, learning from Morris.

‘‘We ended up becoming great friends and we are still in contact and send each other pots that we are making . . .It’s a lovely relationship.’’

Working with clay was very tactile — ‘‘it starts as nothing and ends up with something you can use’’.

She enjoyed creating ‘‘loved objects’’ that were also functional — ‘‘I love seeing pieces being used.’’

A new feature of her work was mixing colour into the clay, ‘‘instead of using glaze to colour, so I am actually colouring the clay itself’’.

This gave her work a ‘‘toned down’’ shade.

‘‘You can see it in the whole body of the clay, even underneath — it is all coloured the same.

‘‘The rest is very simple — I just use a clear glaze.’’

Courtenay is one of the artists exhibiting at the RenewArt project created by the Three Lakes Cultural Trust, which opens tomorrow at the Queenstown Event Centre and next Friday at the Lake Wanaka Centre.

She said her idea for the exhibition theme of ‘‘renewal’’ was finding single items of tableware in second-hand stores, for example glassware ‘‘that used to be a part of a set but there is just one glass left’’.

She used moulds in clay to retain the shape of the original items, but created a complete set instead of just one item.

Working in clay took patience — ‘‘I heard once that potters love disappointment’’.

There was much that could go wrong at the different stages of making items, but that was ‘‘just part of the process’’.

‘‘Because when it goes right it feels so good — when you open that glazed firing and it all comes out right, that is just the best feeling.’’

The power of one . . . Shannon Courtenay, of Cardrona, displays one of her finished cups. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON