Waiohiki Pryoclassic Fire & Clay Night

Waiohiki Creative Arts Village
19 October, HBAF18
By Megan Seawright & Gill Duncan

Two of our writers attended the opening of the Waiohiki Creative Arts Village festival programme.

The evening opens with pōwhiri (including some learning) and kapa haka celebrations, a welcome of kind from the people of Waiohiki to those who had gathered. Waiohiki Creative Arts Village is abuzz with people. The sun is dipping, and fires are being lit.

Several art studios are open for view, a relaxed affair, an invite to wander. Between the socialising I visit only a few, including Kaye McGarva’s with her refined perceptual bending paintings, Morag Shaw’s exquisite illustrations/prints along with her oft brooding animal sculptures in clay and Louis Kittleson potting on the wheel in the main Taradale pottery club rooms – he creates over 25 drinking vessels throughout the evening with the public free to view him do it.  I enjoy a few new sculptures from JILof Aotearoa too.

The hāngī is cooked and ready to serve with many people waiting keen. And it’s a bounty of meats, root veggie, raw fish salad, fried bread and steam pudding… need I say more. Those who know hāngī were ready for it from the moment it was advertised! Everyone is thankful. And let’s not forget the toasting of marshmallow for the children, yummy.

Huge puppets appear and mingle, the most fun being a large wolf in a red riding hood cloak with ‘I  heart granny’ written on the back. Its long tail hugely popular with young ones who followed and pulled, chased and pulled.

All along there is the lush wafting tones of singer songwriter Ariana, her smooth tones float across the courtyard transformed by several fire pit scenes including the infamous Ricks Terstappen fire carousel that rotates once the flames get good and solid. And a guitarist plays whimsy with classic tunes like Norwegian wood.

John Gisborne, another known potter and keen fire keeper sets about adding dashes of potassium to the fires, this sends the flames a rush of green-blue, a visual magic for the child of all ages, all while adjusting a raku firing; sawdust is added to buckets and damped down with newspaper. Later in the evening emerges glossy blackened spherical-cones.

There is a bit of alchemy going on here… in the down to earth happy conversations between everyone, and then many moments of creativity for all to see.

Megan Seawright


At the Waiohiki Creative Arts Village west of Taradale, tonight’s opening event was close up and accessible; we were able to rub shoulders with the artists and many of their studios were open with their work and demonstrations.

I spoke to John who was in charge of today’s Raku firing.

He lifted the lid to a glow positively volcanic in its intensity! Excitingly the large pit fire was the next to be lit. With approximately 40 Gary Henley pots inside, this brick encircled wood fire will burn until Sunday or Monday when it will be cool enough to ‘open’ and discover the treasure within. Henley’s pots are a selection of large approx. 40cm rounds and have been sitting unfired for between 15 and 18 years, so this will be a potter’s must see! Every day will have a new Raku firing to add to the fun.

This event runs right through till Monday. With the combination of local talent, low-key and genuinely friendly people, visiting this gathering of friends will give you a real experience of artisans collaborating in a warm creative space.

Gill Duncan

Waiohiki Creative Arts Village will run three days of artisan markets and open studios, 10-4pm, 20th, Sun 21th and Mon 22nd October.


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