Home Te Papa's website


Len Castle (born 1924), New Zealand,
Large folded rim bowl. From the series ‘The magma flows, the magma cools on its way to the ocean: The ocean’
, 1991, ceramic (earthenware). Commissioned 1991, in partnership with Expo NZ 1992 Ltd and the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand

Earth and fire

As a potter, Len Castle has said he works with fire as his partner. This bowl is a fine example of what he calls ‘glaze eruptions, scoriaceous blistering, flow and colour-separation’ - like the effects of volcanic activity. It brings to mind the volcanic blue and green lakes of Tongariro National Park, an area Castle has studied extensively.

Like many New Zealand potters, Castle’s first influences came from Japanese ceramics. He began potting in 1947 while studying to be a science teacher. But from the 1980s, he and other local potters began making more colourful and experimental work, less concerned with functionality.

Castle is one of New Zealand’s most renowned and respected figures in ceramics.

Note: This work has been removed to make way for the exhibition New Zealand at the Venice Biennale 2009.
More information about the Venice Biennale exhibition

Click on the images below to find out more

Purple rain at glorit

Julian Dashper
Purple rain at Glorit


Large star

Hei Tiki

Rangi Kipa
Hei tiki


Send feedback about this website
© Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa