‘‘So much of clay making is process, rhythm and repetition’’
- Mark Mitchell
Mark Mitchell’s interests lie in drawing out the relationships between the different features of the ceramic object - each piece is a carefully considered exploration of line, surface, and volume. Discussing his practice, Mitchell states, ‘‘My interest lies predominantly with the vessel as an archetypal form, combined with the rich and long history of decorative arts. I use pattern to create illusionary planes to explore the boundary between surface and form, and how the two relate.’’
Mitchell’s background in ceramics began in 1996 when he was initially working in a commercial pottery in Auckland, and then self-employed as a slip caster for 2 years. He began his Fine Arts degree at Wanganui Quay School of Art, completing his final year of the degree at Otago Polytechnic School of Art. Mitchell subsequently worked as a Pottery Tutor where he continued to develop mould making and throwing skills, slab building processes, and surface treatments using terra sigilatta, decals, enamels, and screen printing. In 2007 he was chosen to represent NZ as an emergent Artist at the Fule International Ceramic Museums in China, where he worked alongside a group of internationally recognised artists within an industrial tile and brick factory in the Shaanxi province, China. In 2009 he was the recipient of a 3-month residency in Shigaraki Cultural Ceramic Park, Japan, awarded by The Japan Foundation, Sydney and in 2019 was the recipient of the esteemed Portage Ceramic Award.
'The Vessel as Muse’ would probably effectively encapsulate my making and exploration. The Vessel dates well back to 3000BC and still it captivates. I am very interested in the tension between the fullness of the vessel outside and the visible reduction of the surface inside.
With my award from Portage I travelled internationally, and was really struck by the amalgamation of so many influences from 1960’s Pop to Islamic Ceramics. It did highlight how we are quite ‘in the dark’ here in New Zealand - but you have to try and turn that to your advantage.
I recently visited Peru - in particular the Valley of the Incas - 12 thousand feet / searingly hot - but there is everything there for people to live in and on. Definitely that experience has influenced this recent series.
I think it is the artists job to bring varying elements together – to make harmony or poetics.