Joy comes in all shapes and forms.
In the case of the late Jenny Miller, who was known locally and internationally for her ceramic creations, it often came in the shape of mischievous mice.
Mrs Miller, who died in 2017, is being remembered at the Forrester Gallery with the launch of its exhibition A Mischief of Clay: Works by Jenny Miller.
Mrs Miller and her husband Ian moved to Waitaki from Dunedin about 1979, to pursue their dream of owning a lifestyle block.
They had everything from cows to pigs and turkeys.
“It was like a bloody zoo,” Mr Miller said.
But it was not just live animals that took over their lives.
Mrs Miller soon fell down a rabbit hole of creating whimsical mice, cats, dogs and dragons out of clay.
Nearly as soon as they arrived in the district, Mrs Miller joined Ceramic 44, now known as Pottery on Tyne, and started making her creatures.
“She was always interested in making things,” he said.
“She was a pretty bright lady.”
Interested in geology, history and hiking, Mrs Miller was a woman of many talents.
“There was never a dull moment.”
This could be surmised by the cheekiness of her ceramic mice creations.
Her animals were very “animated and postured” and held facial expressions that looked almost real, Mr Miller said.
“She made thousands of mice. It was great.”
With a distrust in the courier with her delicate pieces, Mr and Mrs Miller spent a lot of time on the road together delivering the clay creatures that were ever growing in popularity.
They even opened up a shop to sell her work.
From travelling salesmen and students, to collectors and holiday makers, people from across New Zealand and the world would visit her shop.
“She didn’t regard [her work] as much as other people did.”
She had the remarkable skill of remembering returning customers not by their faces, but their previous conversations, no matter how long ago they took place, Mr Miller said.
“A lot of people came just for the conversations.”
Mr Miller remembered the chatter and laughter that came from the pottery classes she held at home for friends.
After their three daughters moved out of home 30 years ago, Mr and Mrs Miller moved to Motueka.
With a couple of her sculptures in his possession, they acted as a reminder of the good old days.
“You can’t help but reminisce on all the things that went wrong and all the things that went right,” he said.
“She was really cheerful and positive, and a hard worker.”
A Mischief of Clay: Works by Jenny Miller displays a handful of her creations, and is on at the Forrester Gallery until August 22.