Oamaru’s pottery club is toasting to its longevity with a new exhibition at the Forrester Gallery.
Fired Up, 50 years of Pottery on Tyne celebrates 50 years of potting, hand work, socialising, friends, and total addiction.
“It’s something we can’t get away from, we’re here almost every other day,” Pottery on Tyne president Carolle Morris said.
And there was a great truth to that.
Ms Morris and secretary Jill McIntyre were mainstays of the 35-person pottery group.
Ms Morris joined in 2005 but left and came back full-time 10 years ago, and Mrs McIntrye joined in 1997.
Their favourite part of pottery was the surprise of opening the kiln.
Although Ms Morris preferred “hand work” to using the wheel, they both enjoyed the feel of clay on their hands.
“If you’ve got good clay it’s quite beautiful,” Ms Morris said.
Before changing its name to Pottery on Tyne, it was known as The North Otago Potter’s Group, then Ceramic 44.
Built in 1861, the club’s Tyne St base had a history as rich as the club.
It has had many uses over the years – such as a lodging house and an observatory point – and has been classified as a Category 2 Historic Place under Heritage New Zealand.
Ms Morris and Mrs McIntyre had put a lot of love into Pottery on Tyne and were responsible for a lot of the “adjustments” to the house.
“We’re the carpenters around here,” Mrs McIntyre said.
One day while fixing a window at the gallery, the pair heard loud crashing and thought the roof was caving in, but it was crumbling clay used historically to line the walls.
Ms Morris said it had survived so long thanks to a “touch of madness” and the hard work of Mrs McIntyre, who had a long stint as president.
“We got down to three working members at one point and it was desperate straits because we had no money left,” Mrs McIntyre said.
As one of the first groups in Oamaru to own its premises, Pottery in Tyne was saved when Mrs Mcintyre sold its back section of land.
“We had enough money to put a new roof on,” she said.
What continued to draw members in was a desire to create things they could put their heart and energy into, Ms Morris said.
Although none of the founding members were actively involved any more, many of their pieces were on display at the gallery, preserved by family members.
Ms Morris said people could look forward to a wonderful variety of work and vibrant colour at the Forrester Gallery.
Fired Up, 50 years of Pottery on Tyne is on at the Forrester Gallery until April 4.