We asked five questions of the five artists who participated in Northart’s very first exhibition in 1998 and have been invited back for ‘First Five’, one of two stunning shows celebrating Northart’s 20th anniversary (open daily until 27 November).

The fourth artist in our ‘First Five’ series is ceramicist Peter Collis.

What media do you work in and what attracted you to it?

Clay; it’s a habit.

What artworks or achievements in the past 20 years are you most proud of?

I have been in many exhibitions as an invited artist and selector all around New Zealand, but I have always truly appreciated my association with Northart, both as a member but also on the committee.

I have a huge admiration for what Wendy and her team have achieved.

How did you react to Wendy’s call inviting you to revisit the ‘5/100 New Zealand Craft Artists’ show for Northart’s 20th anniversary?

It seemed a great way to celebrate a long and rewarding collaboration with Northart.  I was aware of the collectors that own the pieces featured in Helen Schamroth’s book 100 New Zealand Craft Artists, so it has been a very pleasant experience to reconnect with them and the works, plus see them alongside current pieces in that range.

Tells us about the works you have selected for ‘First Five’. Are any of them from the original Northart exhibition?

‘Pacific Net series. Black Stalagmites’ is from the original exhibition. The red glaze ‘Construction’ series was produced this year.

How has the exercise made you reflect on your own practice and its development over the past 20 years?

I’m thinking about revisiting the idea of totems for some future work.

Peter Collis has been making pots since his school days. He has exhibited extensively locally and internationally since 1978, and lectured and demonstrated throughout New Zealand, Japan and Singapore. His ceramics have been presented as gifts by the New Zealand Government to Nelson Mandela in 1998; to Taiwan Mayors by the North Shore City in 1990 and also to the Mayor of British Columbia in 1990. His work follows a number of pathways and whilst considered a master on the potter’s wheel, he also works with construction techniques using paper clay and a variety of surface textures based on engobes and Egyptian paste. This allows for a totally different means of expression of form. Peter works from his Birkenhead studio with partner Julie Collis.