While visiting Auckland a few months past we popped in to see one of our fabulous ceramic artists - Helen Perrett. Helen was busy in her home studio working on an exhibition titled 'WishUWereHere'. If you have been into KINA you will know her works: sitting dogs, sitting bunnies, little whale ceramic canisters - each piece is uniquely individual no two are the same which is why we love her works so much. Make sure to keep an eye out because we are hoping to get some of Helens other styles and creations.
Even during her busy preparation Helen kindly invited us into her space. Read on to get to know her and her works a bit more.
How long have you been creating? Has it always been in this medium?
I have always made things, I used to make papier mache mermaids, merdogs, merfoxes and mer-rabbits. And I made paper. I used to have a stall at Titirangi Market with a friend when our children were small. I rediscovered clay in 2000 when my youngest child went to school and I joined a class at Auckland Studio Potters. I had really enjoyed making some small clay objects at secondary school and I knew I would have to have another go with clay one day.
Who taught you or how did you learn your craft?
My first class at ASP was cancelled due to not enough enrolments so I was left to my own devices for quite a while, I taught myself and made masses of busts and wall masks. My first official sculpture tutor was Duncan Shearer, in 2005 I did a one-year class at Artstation with Bronwynne Cornish, she imparted huge amounts of wisdom and the permission to play. That was incredibly liberating. From 2006-2009 I immersed myself in studying for the Diploma of Ceramic Arts (Otago Polytechnic School of Art) through Auckland Studio Potters – each 10 week module gave us a new, tutor. I was taught by John Parker, Campbell Hegan, Andrew Van der Putton, Lex Dawson, Peter Lange, Peter Shearer, Merilyn Wiseman, Penny Ericson, Ande Barrett Hegan, Brendan Adams and Renton Murray... a veritable Who’s Who of contemporary NZ ceramic artists and potters. I feel so lucky that these talented people generously shared their knowledge and techniques with us.
If you weren’t creating your art works what would you be doing?
Previous lives included writing and designing for a garden magazine and maybe I would have kept going with that if I hadn’t been seduced by getting my hands dirty.
Have you passed your techniques onto others?
I am currently co-teaching a Beginners night class at ASP, it’s a lot of fun, everyone is so enthusiastic and happy.
Is there a specific piece you have created that is dearest to you heart? If so, why?
I was told not to sell all of my best pieces so I have kept some of my favourites, I will probably hold onto the two pieces that the selector, Philip Clark of Objectspace liked from 2012 ASP annual show Fire and Clay which was held at the Pah Homestead (Home of the Wallace Art Trust collection), he said he could have chosen either piece quite happily for the Premier Award. It was a thrilling moment. One is a hare and the other a sad jester. The Jester was chosen. They are pieces that I enjoyed making, and they have very happy memories tied to them.
If you could plan your perfect day what would it consist of from start to finish?
Going for a walk up Mt Eden or along a beach with my dog, coffee with some friends and then the rest of the day pottering in my studio accompanied by various members of my menagerie (pigeons and cats). In the evening we might go out for a meal – I love eating out!
What is your favourite meal and who would prepare it for you?
I would love to say I was a vegetarian but I am a real carnivore. Sigh. My favourite meal is a small steak with either new potatoes or roasted potatoes and a really nice salad, my husband would probably cook it - these days he cooks more than I do.
If you were to be an animal which one would you be?
I would probably be one of my animals, they get thoroughly spoiled. But that’s a tough question, I think a lot about animals as I do like to make sculptures of them, I don’t think most of them have a great life. Possibly cats get the best lifestyle.
see some of Helen Perrett's work online