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John Parker

An eminent practitioner

‘I am not interested in the random and the spontaneous. I want to be better than a lathe, more plastic than plastic.’

These bottles and bowls illustrate the qualities for which ceramic artist John Parker is much admired – elegance, rigour, and technical brilliance. They also demonstrate his interest in form working against functionality – they are bottles difficult to fill, bowls unsuitable for use.

Parker's practice reflects his long interest in both industrial and modernist ceramics. After a residency in China in 2007, his work was influenced by classical Chinese ceramics, seen especially in the shape and decoration of Bottle – goldfish on vortex plinth. A theatre designer as well as a potter, his theatrical skills are evident in his dramatic groupings of objects, which also suggest the art of the domestic mantelpiece.

Te Papa has early works by this pre-eminent ceramic artist, and these recent pieces help to update the collection.

Watch an interview with John Parker

This text was prepared for the Collecting Contemporary exhibition, 2011–2012.

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List of works

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