When I think of the contemporary New Zealand ceramics scene, one of the first names I think of is Renee Boyd. She’s actually been a potter for over 10 years, having worked at various commercial product ceramic studios (and under a number of NZ ceramic legends) honing her craft before slowly making the move to running her own studio full time. Working from home in Auckland’s Glen Eden, Renee makes everything from tableware, to planters and sculptural pieces. She produces for retailers around the country and her own customers, and works on commissioned pieces too.
How did you first get into ceramics?
My early exploration of ceramics was when I was at high school. I met a really great friend Acushla and her dad John Green was a real life potter living in the bush at Anawhata Beach (one of the far West Coast beaches). We would spend every weekend driving out there in our old beat up cars to just hang out at their place, surrounded by all of his pottery and friends drinking endless cups of tea made in beautiful hand thrown teapots. It was there I just soaked up the atmosphere and was given the chance to have a go myself, and thats when I started to become hooked on clay. The generosity and kindness from all the people and potters I met out there sealed my love for clay, I was just a teenager but really enjoyed learning what I could from all the artists and oldies about clay and also pretty much life in general.
How do you find working for yourself, by yourself?
I have been working full time for a while and I’m fortunate that I can work the hours I like, so I try and manage my time as effectively as possible, trying not to have too many late working nights. I used to work quite long hours… but I’m slowly learning the art of work/life balance; it’s certainly not easy! And because I love what I do it doesn’t feel like work mode to me. I actually find hanging out in my studio by myself very relaxing.
Tell us a little about your creative process?
I always have ideas going on. Pottery has endless possibilities so I will always be occupied with things I could make! I scribble a lot of ideas on paper first and then cut out shapes to experiment with where I’m going with the pieces. I always love ceramics before it is fired in a kiln. Just after its been glazed and drying. There is something about the matt tactile-ness of the forms before they are glazed that appeals to me the most. I have spent many years experimenting with my own glazes to achieve this look in the final glaze.
What’s been some of the work highlights of the past year?
One of the highlights has been part of the mug mates subscription founded by Wundaire . It is a great idea and has really been loved by the makers and the collectors. It’s made me do more time on the wheel which is so good for getting the practice in – working on the wheel is something that is all about putting the time in.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m just in the process of making my own full dinner set for me to use. I can’t wait till I finally finish it and then can add it to the everyday use cupboard. I use my bowls all the time and am super stoked when I see my little boy Jed (6) grab one of my bowls for his breakfast over the commercial ones. Success!
I have a cupboard in my kitchen where I hold all the pottery over the years that I treasure and I’m always slowly adding to it. These are the pieces that I don’t use everyday as I’m too scared to break any as they can never be replaced.
Where do you think the current love for ceramics comes from?
I’m into making work that is minimalist and thoughtful, and allows people to fall in love with the tactile qualities of clay and glaze so that when they buy a piece its for life. And I personally feel so attached to pieces that I have bought from friends etc over the years that I’m sure it all begins and ends with hands, from the hands of the maker to the hands of the end user.
At the moment there is another wave of people loving handmade pieces and work that actually has some thoughtful design behind it which is awesome. And the support out there for New Zealand made is lovely, as it also pushes the maker into always trying to get the best they can from the piece they are working with… pieces that last a lifetime are the real deal.
The carport at Renee’s house has been converted into a light-filled home studio
You know I couldn’t resist a shot just of little old man Murray. Good boy, Murray.
Renee finishes these mugs with either a white, black, soft pink or sage green glaze
…and pretty things all in a row.
(I’m going to have to buy one of those speckled planters, you know that don’t you.)
We LOVE love love Renee’s ceramic wall hooks.