Lois’s love of clay leads to win

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REAL JOB: Supreme award winner Lois Orchard of Mayfield and her work, at the Hakatere Ceramics and Pottery 2023 Exhibition under way at the Ashburton Art Gallery.
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When Lois Orchard of Mayfield was 16, she would tell people she wanted to be a potter when she left school.

‘‘They said ‘What about a real job? What are you going to do for a real job?’’’

The 76-year-old was reminiscing about where it all began following winning the supreme award at the Hakatere Ceramics and Pottery 2023 Exhibition.

Featuring work from members of the Hakatere Ceramics and Pottery Club, the exhibition is under way at the Ashburton Art Gallery.

‘‘I had a love of clay as a kid, I always wanted to be a potter,’’ Lois said. But like so many with artistic aspirations, she instead chose something practical as a career. Lois became a registered nurse, finally pursuing her dream at the age of 40 by enrolling in polytechnic to study pottery. She launched her professional pottery career where she was living at the time, on the West Coast. ‘‘It was reasonably successful, but it became boring.’’ After 10 years earning her living from throwing, moulding and firing clay, she gave up. ‘‘But I kept my gear,’’ Lois said. About five years ago she went back to it, this time keeping away from getting ‘‘too commercialised’’ and following her artistic instincts instead. The supreme award was the first award she had won since returning to pottery.

Lois said she got her inspiration from everyday life, and the work of other potters around the world. One of the items in her winning portfolio is a tall fawn and ochre pot with leaf imprints, which she got the idea for while gardening. She said her fascination for pottery was just as strong today as it was all those years ago.

‘‘I love carving the clay. I have this tool at home and sometimes I don’t know when to stop.

‘‘I call it playing with clay.’’

Among awards at this year’s exhibition is a People’s Choice, to be announced at the end of the exhibition.

* Hakatere Ceramics and Pottery 2023 Exhibition is on at Ashburton Art Gallery until November 19.

Raku work by Carolyn Handley, at the Hakatere Ceramics and Pottery 2023 Exhibition.