Mirek Smíšek: 60 Years 60 Pots
16 May - 9 June 2013
Mirek Smíšek (O.B.E.), 1925 - 2013, was born in Czechoslovakia and was one of New Zealand’s leading pioneer studio potters. He devoted his life to creativity as a positive response to the horrors he experienced during World War Two. Tim Walker, past Director of The New Dowse, describes ‘Smíšek as one of our great treasures … who stands out as a maker of real stature, accomplishment and generosity’
Curator Gary Freemantle has selected 60 pots spanning 60 years for this full survey exhibition of Smíšek’s life’s work, from private and public collections around New Zealand. They represent Smíšek’s main forms of vases, bowls, crocks, jugs and Yunomi (Japanese tea-bowls). The variations in glaze, shape and decoration that characterise his work are seen in these works.
Mirek Smíšek, a survivor who has maintained a strong sense of integrity to his creative convictions, remained resolutely a potter: a maker of functional pottery that is designed to be used, combining the dual pleasures of function and aesthetics. That is why his artform is social - it relates to people and their activities. In this way his work comes alive when people are together and the pots are being used for their intended purpose.
Smíšek began with clay in Canberra in 1948, working briefly at Crown Lynn in Auckland in 1951. Then, in 1954, he established Nelson’s first full-time studio pottery. In the 1960s and 70s he worked and studied with international pottery masters Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada at St Ives, Cornwall, and in Japan. From 1968, Smíšek established three studio potteries on the Kapiti Coast - at Manakau, Te Horo and Waikanae.
Mirek Smíšek, 60 Years 60 Pots would not have been possible without the generosity and support of many private lenders, including Jane Beverly, Hana Smíšek, Mary Ayre, Sally Burton, Andrew Grigg, Peter Rogers, Alan & Elizabeth Purdie, Jeanne Macaskill, Pamella Annsouth and Gillian and Dr. Roderick Deane.
Coming to the NZ Academy of Fine Arts at the end of an almost four year long tour, this exhibition was originally created by Mahara Gallery, Waikanae, curated by Gary Fremantle and toured by Exhibition Services. It has been supported by the Kapiti Coast District Council and the Real Art Charitable Trust. The catalogue was also generously supported by Mission Hall Creative. It has been made possible in Wellington with the genereous support of the Blumhardt Foundation.
Also supporting the exhibition are the potters of Cliff to Clay: Pottery & Photography, a companion exhibition that pays tribute to New Zealand's studio movement, curated by Jodie Dalgleish.