Hawke’s Bay: Thriving industry
Pots are work to the Martins
By Jesma Magill
Two Hastings potters – Estelle and Bruce Martin from Kamaka Pottery at Bridge Pa – like doing things differently.
They sold their property in Hastings 17 years ago and moved out of town so they could devote more time and space to their art.
They also built a Japanese kiln – anagama – on their 10 acre property after a visit to Japan in 1978 where they saw the kiln being used.
The Martins originally wanted only an acre for their house and workship [workshop] but “the county council said we had to have 10 acres,” Bruce Martin said.
The extra space means they can accommodate large tour parties when they come to visit Kamaka Pottery.
The property, leafy and spacious, also borrows landscape from the air strip backing on to the property and the golf course in the distance.
Estelle and Bruce started potting full-time 22 years ago, and eight years before that as a hobby.
Estelle, with three children, was a housewife and Bruce was the charge radiographer at the Hastings Memorial hospital before they moved to Bridge Pa.
The move was a bold one. They found it a challenge but it was also a necessity if they were to become more serious potters.
When they started out a lot of their business came from supplying retail outlets around New Zealand, making domestic ware, domestic pieces and floral containers.
Apart from the workshop at Kamaka Pottery in Bridge Pa they have no commercial outlet in the area.
To get their work known, and tell people where they were, they held open days.
The spinners and weavers group held their conference in Hastings recently and six bus loads of people visited Kamaka Pottery.
The last group to visit were the Shetland Islanders who visited Hastings last month.
Kamaka Pottery have pieces on display at the Ngatarawa Winery stables just a few hundred metres away and Kamaka Pottery reciprocate with Ngatarawa’s cards on display at their workshop.
They find this informal kind of advertising works well.
Bruce and Estelle have been members of the New Zealand Potters Society for a long time, and exhibit regularly with them.
Since using the anagama kiln they have exhibited in Gisborne, Auckland, the Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington and last year in the Fletcher Brownbelt [Brownbuilt] Pottery Awards.
It has also changed their style of work. They make less domestic ware and more floral containers, garden pieces and one-off speciality works.
Photo captions –
Bruce and Estelle Martin each hold a pottery piece fired in the anagama kiln. Behind them is a collection of pots waiting to be fired.
Once a year Bruce and Estelle fire their anagama kiln. When they do, they must spend eight days and nights feeding wood into the fire every two minutes.