John Parker is an artist of formidable skill, a master designer of exquisite objects of great beauty and as such, he occupies a singular place of distinction in the world of craft/object art. From the outset, his extraordinary commitment to modern expressionism marked him out as the maverick that he is, his stance seeming like heresy as it flew in the face of New Zealanders then adherence to the more accepted anglo-oriental principles of that time.
“His continued dedication to the exploration of the possibilities of pure form (form as a means of engaging with function), is a position that has seen him both lead and influence developments in NZ ceramics throughout his career. His work is the very best of contemporary informed by classicism, presenting an elegant refinement of geometric form, combining precise technique with intellectual discipline and reinforced with a play on the treatment of surface.”1
John Parker on his methods: “When working in clay, I see myself following in the traditions of being just a craft potter. Each piece is hand-made and unique. I throw and turn all my work on the potter’s wheel. I make ware which is easily recognisable as the classical pottery vessel, bottle or bowl, but my special concern is to push the concepts of these as far as possible into severe minimalism and into the functional/non-functional debate to explore the very essence of defining these ideas. My forms and aesthetic, of the stark and the industrial owe more to the philosophy of the European design movements of de Stijl and the Bauhaus than to Leach and Hamada.”2
Parker has been exhibiting ceramics since 1967. After some years studying in New Zealand and London, Parker graduated with a Master of Fine Arts, Royal College of Art, London, in 1975. He returned to Auckland in 1977 and received numerous commissions and awards for his work as well as widely exhibiting in New Zealand and Internationally. Major public and private collections include Parker’s pieces, including the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. The National Business Review endorsed Parker as one of the names to consider when investing in applied art.
Among a reputable number of accolades, Parker was awarded the Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate in 2010.
1. Elizabeth Caldwell, John Parker - Ceramic Artist and Theatre Designer. Retrieved from http://www.thearts.co.nz/artist_page.php&aid=109&type=bio
2. John Parker, Artist Statement, 2000.
John Parker discusses his new works with art consultant Vanessa Jones. Video production: Ross Wilson