My life has been focused around pottery since age ten. At that time, I used to play in the pottery at Ardmore Teachers College after school. I’ve continued that play ever since – building a pottery in Wellington around 1960, Featherston in 1966 and at my present Carterton property in 1974. Apart from short periods of travel and catastrophe (the Carterton pottery burned down in 1976), I have been making pots continuously throughout that time.

Painting became a major preoccupation when I started Life Drawing regularly in 1990. This was followed by study at Auckland University of Technology where I completed a BFA in 1999, an MFA from Massey Wellington in 2004 and a PhD from Massey in 2011. My painting has retained a preoccupation with people and the cultivation of empathy through the imaginative reconstruction of their situation through the visual image.

The move to Carterton and a bigger property gave me scope to pursue another passion – reviving the natural landscape by planting trees. My present property was a desolate gorse covered wilderness when I first arrived with a few remnant Kanuka and Totara. It is now properly and increasingly clothed in native and some exotic trees. One flat paddock on the land became a cricket pitch about 37 years ago. This has been the site of up to 14 highly contested ‘village’ games every year since. Although our resident team retains a core of five players, the number of players, ranging in age from 10 to 70, who have played for or against the ‘Bottom Paddock’, has almost certainly exceeded a thousand.

It is this rural environment and my political inclination towards egalitarianism that has focused all my work towards some sort of utility. My pots are almost always designed to be a part of ordinary domestic living and to be quiet reminders of the natural materials they are made of and the work of the hand that has produced them. The paintings too are about people and the struggles of power, change and understanding that are a continual challenge for us all.

Paul Melser - Potter

Paul Melser Pottery - in amongst the trees