My name is Anthea Grob, the place I live and work in is the wild, windy, South Coast of Wellington in Owhiro Bay, New Zealand. Until my little old dog got too frail, a daily dog walk meant the chance to observe the seagull creche, to stop at the bridge and see if any eels were entwining themselves, to hear the piping conversation between the variable oyster-catchers, to watch the shags dry their wings, to see dolphins and orca, particularly in the summer months. Even on sunny days friends will observe that I am paranoid about taking a coat as a hedge against the winds funneled to the Cook Strait by the mountains. I love the bay in all its moods, and you can see how its influence is often shown in my work.
Currently, I work in both ceramics and textiles, textiles initially under the brand Ecofabric, and more recently 29 Native Bees, lately, the studio focus has been on ceramics.
Clay has a complex history involving everything elemental, its parent rock is worn down over millennia by geothermal action, by frost and ice, by rain and rivers, by lichens and biological organisms to eventually become clay and the salts of the sea. Each clay has its history embedded. I try to second guess the complex interactions of clay and the minerals used to make glazes, but despite boxes of test tiles, and tests, and the use of 20th-century glaze formulation programs, the interactions are complex and what works on one clay can be a complete failure on a different clay or using a different firing cycle. There are many things that can go wrong and even now I open the kiln with a feeling of excitement coupled with slight dread, having experienced most of the things in the 64 pages of my book on ceramic faults. Until the work has come out of the kiln, and you have inspected it closely, and also tested it for vitrification, you do not know if it will live up to your expectations. Potters have a saying "What is the favourite going into the kiln is not the favourite coming out." It is surprising how often this is true. Ceramicist John Maltby referred to this as "... the challenge of failure."
I have taught ceramics, digital media, and textile-related subjects such as dyes on fibre at Southland Polytechnic, CIT, WelTec, Natcoull and various workshops and artist-in-residencies, and at pottery clubs. I am available to do more of this. I have sold and exhibited in New Zealand, Melbourne and in Canada and have a master's degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University. I edited The New Zealand Potters' magazine Ceramics Quarterly for several years and met some fabulous people in the New Zealand ceramics community.
I am a person who believes that bad things happen when good people pretend nothing is wrong. Therefore I have campaigned on various issues such as getting caged hen eggs out of supermarkets. Lately, a focus has been on informing people about safe technology choices. Who doesn't love all the exciting things our technology give us? But, much as I love tech, I have academic papers coming into my inbox all the time showing harm to ourselves and the eco-system from our wireless technologies in particular. (In short, safe tech means using wired technology rather than wireless technology and keeping out of electrical fields as much as you can. See www.safeictnz.org to know more).
Okay, back to the artisan output: each ceramic piece is individually made, usually slowly. Sometimes the execution will be quick but studying the form, and studying glaze test tiles, applying colours that are completely different in colour and texture before they are fired may be a very slow and contemplative process. Even so, there are still days of chipping glaze from kiln shelves from a glaze that off-gases, etc.
I hope my pieces will aid in the simple joys of arranging some flowers, serving food, creating what interior designers call a vignette—a little arrangement of objects that give a little character to a room, creating a feeling of a home with its own style, with the warmth of the hand-made included, and reflecting personality, or, in taking a break with a hot cup of something delicious.