In the throws of creativity

Marita Green spends her days sculpting earth into mugs, plates, vases and artworks. Taranaki Community News caught up with her to find out why she loves getting her hands dirty.

Tell us about yourself and what you do
I’m a potter – it’s my full-time job around being a Mum and wife. Aaron and I have two boys, Joseph (13) and Theo (11). We live in Westown, after moving from Taupo about seven years ago for Aaron’s work. Aaron is a knife-maker when he is not working his 9-to-5. We embrace a slow-living lifestyle on our ¼ acre section and grow fruit, veg, keep chickens and bees.

How did your pottery journey start, and how did you learn to create such amazing work?
I started working in clay when Theo was born, when I went to a pottery group at my friend’s suggestion. My friend asked me to go with her, and then she couldn’t go, so I ended up on my own there, but it was serendipitous because I’ve never looked back.

Marita enjoys making objects that people can use

My very earliest experience with clay was when I was four. It was the 70s and we lived next to a hobby potter. I was enthralled with pottery then. She let me work in her studio and I made a pinch-pot dolls tea set. I will never ever forget that because she trusted me and honoured me even though I was a small child. Perhaps she saw something in me then that I didn’t even know was there.

Whatever the case, I truly love clay, and learning just comes from that love. I am not an especially fast learner, but I’ve spent hours with clay because I love it. Learning from that experience is inevitable! I’m self taught. I have an amazing mentor who has encouraged me and given me some wheel-throwing lessons. I read and ask lots of questions.

Your pottery work is incredible, and you make a range of beautiful, quirky, awesome things. What are your favourite things to make?
I love to wheel-throw most of all. I learned nearly five years ago and have been practising since. It is a skill that requires lots of practise. Once the wheel is spinning, everything happens so fast, yet so gently – it’s a dichotomy.

I love it because I have to be fully present to listen to each piece of clay as I shape it, and once I’m done, I have the opportunity with the next once to try again to get it right.

I imagine its like a surfer chasing the perfect wave – when you get it right its so euphoric you spend the next lifetime chasing another!

Beyond that, I try to be as authentic as I can with my design and decoration. I make things that I like and would want in our home (we just have a weird collection of all the seconds in our cupboards though). I try to not be too SERIOUS. Life is challenging enough, so I try to bring some joy and lightness to my work.

Creating a piece of pottery is quite a lengthy process. Can you explain to us what happens from go to whoa?
Its lengthy, and potentially very boring to the uninitiated, so I’ll spare you the details. But starting with the type of clay I use, all the way through to firing (sometimes four times), its complex.

The feedback loop in pottery is about six weeks; I won’t know if what I am doing is successful until the pot is finally fired about six weeks from when it was made. I’m always trawling through my memory trying to think which part of the process resulted in the (inevitable) failure. I maintain that potters are eternal optimists because failure is such a part of what we do. There are untold opportunities to lose heart and want to quit, but I think that is the hook for me. The taste of success is so much sweeter when the struggle is fraught.

If you could meet any three people from history, who would they be, and what would you talk about?
Jesus. Totally. I’d just want to know everything, like everything, like how did you do all those miracles, and can you teach me how to do them too? Plus, He (God) is the ultimate potter right?!

Frida Kahlo. Because she was so ahead of her time, so fierce. I would just listen to her. And Joan of Arc. Maybe they could sit around swapping stories of bravery, and I’d hopefully just absorb some of their awesomeness. And make them refreshments.

You can follow Marita and her work on Instagram .