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Philosophy

“It takes 20 years to learn, 20 years to forget and then you start making good pots”

Pottery of course, has a history going back thousands of years, it tells a story, even though each piece of a set may look the same, the fact is everything that comes off Kim's wheel is slightly different, That's the nature of the craft, the materials he works with and the process of being a potter.

Kim Morgan tries to strike the right balance between the timelessness of what is fired in the kiln and the reasonable life of a modern and functional pottery. Archaeologists are still digging up remnants of ancient civilisation and literally piecing together the pottery used thousands of years ago. And, as Kim says, accidents still happen.

Even the best ideas can take on a life of their own as the artisan potter is hit by a wave of creative inspiration while coaxing useful and even beautiful shapes from a lump of clay.

While New Zealand potter Kim Morgan reckons he's a slow learner, that's largely because he takes time to observe the possibilities as he moulds the clay and studies its properties and reactions to various glazes and the blasting heat of the kiln.

While Kim Morgan adept at producing pots, mugs, bowls and vases to order he's always discovering something new on the journey.

"Pottery is not about creating a fixed thing. Some pieces end up entirely different to what was originally intended and only contain elements of the original idea."

This creative licence is something that Kim Morgan has worked long and hard to unleash. He first refined the art of "throwing" at an Australian factory where he was part of a production line churning out planter pots all day long until he worked his way up to become head thrower.

After 40 years, the New Zealand Potter says there's an art to throwing a good pot which can only be refined with time, experience and intuition as the dedicated potter develops their own style.

These days Kim Morgan says throwing the clay on the wheel with a design in mind is as much about intuition as it is a technical skill. "Occasionally you'll be working away and something will happen that's different and you'll think that's quite nice. It's a balance between doing it and allowing it to happen."

While a set of mugs might be identical he knows each one will be different in some way.

"Even if they're thrown one after another there will still be a slight angle or hint of difference because they're all handmade. Occasionally I'll select one and keep it for myself because if just sings."

Even in the potter's own kitchen, he'll keep a specific mug out of a set and then swap plates or bowls around.

'I want to keep moving forward and bringing new things through.'

Kim often saves up new ideas that have occurred during his weekly production runs for what he calls "his Friday afternoon specials" where he allows himself the luxury of experimental creativity. During these times he's comes up with some of his satisfying and successful pieces.

A Personal Touch

Essentially Kim Morgan makes pots and bowls he personally likes; fortunately other people seem to like them as well. His output runs a fine line between what the market wants and the art side which is more about expressing his own ideas.

Some days the New Zealander simply has to sit down and make loads of pots to meet orders, or as part of a new line he's marketing. "You have to have a business sense. I can't be creative and make art all the time" he says.

"The hard part is leaving the workshop to market and sell product when you know it can take six months for something new to catch on. Every artist goes through all that."

Kim Morgan recalls resistance to one particular line he was working on. "I made these large casserole bowls and some people commented that they were too big. I explained they fitted perfectly into my oven with three or four pheasants and red wine and onions. They were impressed with that and purchased one. It's all about how you market things' he says.

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