White on white, the stark purity of style established by renowned ceramicist John Parker is instantly recognisable. There is convincing elegance of form and simplicity of statement like no other. The repetition of line and form creates a musical rhythm. New Artefacts exhibits Parker’s most recent white ware ceramics.
The cross fertilisation between Parker’s vocation as a theatre set designer and ceramicist, is evident in his commanding consideration of light and space. Grooves, lines and dimples establish dramatic shadows, negative space is a controlled and considered element, while the contrast of the white gloss surface glistens and reflects light. Parker is essentially working with three - dimensional objects in space. When composed in a group formation, or viewed individually there is a sense being built, of existing as architecture does.
“My forms and aesthetic, of the stark and the industrial, have always put me out of step with the craft based organic oriented mainstream of New Zealand pottery. I owe more to the philosophy of the European design movements of de Stijl and the Bauhaus, than to the New Zealand preoccupation with the East and Zen.” (1)
Parker believes in a philosophy of order and balance. By limiting variables, such as colour and form, he is able to produce simple, yet endlessly creative objects. He considers that something must be well said and well made. “If you haven’t got anything to say, don’t open the bag of clay.”(2)
“In 1996 Parker announced his intention to work solely in the colour white and launched his White Ware—handmade ceramics which in their perfection of shape and surface also resemble commercial ware…Rather than narrowing his practice, his decision to work solely in the colour white has opened up numerous formal challenges and poetic possibilities.”(2)
John Parker is one of New Zealand’s most significant ceramic artists. He has developed and defined a style, giving it artistic distinction with his unique approach and technical perfection.
1. Artist statement.
2. John Parker, 100 New Zealand Craft Artists, 1998.
3. Rebecca Wilson, Wellington City Gallery, 2002.