From clay to coasters for local artist

Cambridge potter Diane Parker holding some of the coasters set for exhibit at Deciduus Gallery’s show.

One of the artists featuring in August’s coaster show in Tirau is Cambridge potter Diane Parker.

Her inclusion in Deciduus Gallery’s show entitled The Forest Floor marks a ground-breaking shift for the Kaipaki Rd resident, a move away from the familiarity of clay to embracing new forms of creativity.

“I hadn’t been doing much really … I’ve been having a very quiet time in terms of productivity,” Diane explained. “Taking part in this show is me coming out of that.”

Deciduus Concept Gallery – owned by Cambridge artist Santie Cronje and her partner Shane Berger – opened in May to showcase indoor plants and fine art with a botanical/nature theme. They collaborate with New Zealand artists to curate seasonal displays and group shows.

Diane responded positively when a friend suggested she heed the gallery’s call for artists to enter their August 4-26 coaster show. “Winter is a great season for reflecting and considering new directions, and this opportunity was not be to missed,” she said, “even though it meant a steep learning curve.”

The Forest Floor theme was intended to inspire artists to create up to four mini artworks on coasters exploring the world that inhabits the floor of our forests. Santie sees it as “a place alive with secrets and treasures”, rich with mosses and lichens, fallen leaves, logs, insects, fungi and ferns.

Diane’s interpretation is of the forest floor as “a host to new beginnings”, she said. She uses watercolours and metallic pens to tell its story, using gold and silver threads to represent movement of the invertebrates living in that landscape, and resin as the cool wet that holds it all together.

It’s miles away from her familiar creative space – that of working clay.

Diane is an established clay artist who used the closure of a family engineering business as an opportunity to express the artistic genes she said had long been lurking within. Drawing on her childhood love of stonewear domestic vessels, she taught herself how to work with clay.

One of Diane Parker’s tiny coasters, illustrating her interpretation of The Forest Floor.

It was only in 2005 that she did a diploma in ceramic arts through the Waikato Society of Potters, a distance learning programme through Otago University. She loved every moment of it, then went on to steer tutoring workshops in her craft.

“That was until about 18 months ago, then I decided to self-nurture for a while. I didn’t do much creatively, which is why this show is a bit of a comeback for me.

“I’m discovering watercolours, pen and paper work … I am just enjoying finding out about the new media out there. And while these materials don’t have the same physicality as clay, they’re certainly easier to being into the lounge at night! They’re much more accessible in that way.”

With a view to even more experimentation, Diane has just started a print-making course offered through the Waikato Society of Arts.

“I’m thinking how I might be able to blend the two together – the clay and the print-making,” she said. “But right now, I’m just having a wonderful time.”

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