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Potter, conservationist, rail enthusiast and Kiwi icon, Barry Brickell, passes away

27 Jan 2016

This content is tagged as Craft/object .


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Humphrey Tait
Posted by Humphrey Tait

Arts Adviser - Craft/Object and Visual Arts

Barry Brickell, The Councillist, 1980.
Barry Brickell, The Councillist, 1980.

Creative New Zealand mourns the passing on Saturday 23 January of potter Barry Brickell. He was 80 years old and still at the wheel of his legendary Driving Creek Pottery and Railway. He was in equal measure a potter, a conservationist, a rail entrepreneur, a thinker and a doer. For Barry there was no separation between these aspects of his life, and his was a life given wholly to these pursuits.

It is rare that a mind of such originality graces our culture and he will be fondly remembered as a man of immense creativity; someone who acted upon his ideals and was ferociously productive.

In 2012 Creative New Zealand was very proud to offer the Dowse Art Gallery in Lower Hutt a grant towards touring a major retrospective exhibition of Barry’s work, curated by Emma Bugden. Emma worked closely with Barry to identify significant works and negotiate the loan of works held in private and corporate collections that had not previously been seen by the general public. This exhibition coincided with the equally important book, His Own Steam, by David Craig and Gregory O’Brien, and published by Auckland University Press.  These two endeavours recognised the significance of the contribution made by Barry and offered a wonderful opportunity for the New Zealand public to be introduced to, or be reacquainted with, his work.

Here in Creative New Zealand’s Auckland office we have the pleasure of seeing a piece of Barry’s work every day. It’s entitled The Councillist: a very appropriate piece to be purchased by the Arts Council of New Zealand. It was originally shown in Barry’s exhibition Baroque Politicaust at The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in 1980.

Ceramics writer Moyra Elliott gives a fitting, and fuller, tribute to Barry on her blog, accompanied by many beautiful photographs.