Anything in the pipe line goes as nine artists display talents

Crazy cows smoking, moondogs with incense and a caterpillar in Nirvana are just a few of the fantastical clay creations set to go on show at Raglan Old School Arts Centre in just over a fortnight, when a fresh wave of visitors are expected in town for Auckland Anniversary Weekend.

Called ‘Pipe Dreams’, it will be a “playful, out-of-this world” exhibition of intricate pipes and whistles, says organiser Susan Flight.

The renowned ceramic artist normally shows a culmination of artists’ works downtown every two years.

But this time around the show is a year late because Covid-19 made getting together last year – at her Mountain Dreaming Arts Workshop on the slopes of Mt Karioi – a lot more difficult for the nine participating artists who come from Auckland, Coromandel, Hamilton, Pirongia and Raglan.

The upside however, says Susan, is that their creations have “gone really wild”. They’ve had more time to explore the possibilities and that has resulted, all up, in 90 pieces of work based on the unusual subject matter.

Although the pottery group always “starts seriously” with an idea for each new exhibition, it’s only a theme to work around and they can explore areas that relate, Susan explains. So there’s everything from ceramic plaques of different weeds that can be smoked from pipes through to “stunning” clowns or birds and lizards resting in the warmth of pipes.         

Also on show will be traditional pipes for smoking of all kinds, water-whistle pipes, bubble pipes and local potter Tania Mills’ portal of Rarohenga from Maori mythology.

Susan’s proud too of her own “crazy” offering, a blue-glazed moondog representing the rare circular spot found on a lunar halo.

She was inspired by her new puppy Whero, which she acquired during lockdown, and became delighted by its mischievous antics.

Susan’s now an octogenarian but remains forever passionate about creativity and people’s ability to be creative.

“I’m quite thrilled with what’s turned out,” she says of ‘Pipe Dreams’.

Exhibiting artists along with Susan are Merren Goodison, Tania Mills, Susanne Prinz, Genny Wilson, Heather Cunningham, Karen Kennedy, Marilyn Yates and Janet Leonard.

*The exhibition will be opened by local arts stalwart Virginia Gallagher at 10am on Saturday January 30, and runs through until Monday February 1 at 4pm.

Edith Symes