Newspaper Article 2002 – Anagama fest fires up potter

Anagama fest fires up potter

The inaugural Aomori wood fire festival was an experience retired potter Bruce Martin now wants to share with others, as HILARY PEDERSEN discovered.

Longtime Hawke’s Bay potter Bruce Martin, now retired, attended the inaugural Aomori International Wood Fire Festival 2002 in Japan recently, discovering that years of experience are still no barrier to learning.

Now, back home, and with his interest in wood firing stimulated, Martin says he is available to help others, although he “won’t be doing it again himself.”

Martin, and fellow New Zealand potters, Auckland based Peter Lange and Duncan Shearer, were among the 50 international delegates invited to the nine day Aomori festival. Others came from Europe, Greece, Australia, Canada and the United States of America.

There were two requirements. Delegates were asked to supply in advance two finished pieces of work for a museum collection, and then to make demonstration pieces on site. Those were to be fired later, and auctioned, the proceeds going toward the funding of future festivals.

The budget, $US800,000 ($NZ1.7m), and the standard of organisation were impressive, Martin says.

The aim was to promote the province as a pottery and tourism region and to revive what has been a traditional occupation. Pottery in the region died out 1000 years ago.

Martin with his late wife Estelle, pioneered anagama (wood fired) pottery in New Zealand.

Their interest kindled after a 1978 trip to Japan during which they met anagama potter experienced in the process and viewed examples of wood fired pots in museums, the pair returned to New Zealand determined to build their own wood-fired kiln.

Their first firing, four years later, was a major undertaking as colleagues gathered to help stoke the fire at five minutes intervals over the ensuing eight to 10 days.

It’s obvious that for Martin, wood firing has not lost its appeal.

“It’s a natural process, there are no glazes. The results are reliant on the many coatings of ash”.

Photo caption – BRUCE MARTIN working at the Aomori International Wood Fire Festival.

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Newspaper article

Date published

25 September 2002

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  • Hilary Pedersen


Hawke's Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


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