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The development of studio pottery in New Zealand, from the late 1940s until the 1970s, largely followed the Anglo-Oriental ceramic movement, with its emphasis on handcrafted domestic works. New Zealand potters were inspired by leaders of that movement, including Englishman Bernard Leach.

This tradition has since been challenged by potters exploring new ideas and techniques, influenced in particular by approaches from the United States and Europe. These potters have moved away from the functional vessel towards more concept-driven work.

Many contemporary potters use ceramics to investigate ideas about their position and role in the art world. They raise questions about the purpose of pottery and about the way ceramics relate to craft and design. These artists may refer to the past, but their focus is on contemporary concerns, including politics, cultural identity, language, and the environment.

This text was prepared for the Collecting Contemporary exhibition, February 2012.

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