Merilyn Wiseman

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1941, d.2019

Pacific Rim

  • 2004
  • Clay
  • Purchased, 2004
  • 300 x 970 x 250mm
  • 2004/42

Merilyn Wiseman trained as a painter, first in Auckland and later at the renowned Goldsmiths School of Art in London. But on a working holiday at a small county pottery in Ireland, she “watched someone throwing pots on a wheel – amorphous lumps of clay, two hands, a little water and a slowly turning wheel. It was like watching a dance in slow motion; I was hooked.” Returning to New Zealand, she built a two-chambered wood kiln at her home in 1976 and worked as a ceramic artist from then on. Describing it as “an art with a science affliction”, she enjoyed the hands-on nature of clay: “It is a deceptively simple material with its own subtle ways of resisting mishandling. The unique structural and textural qualities of these materials, in combination, are infinite, and for me remain a constant source of fascination.” Wiseman’s contribution to ceramics was recognised in 2009, when she was honoured as New Zealand Arts Foundation Arts Laureate. This work comes from Wiseman’s large Pacific Rim series, in which she played with the idea of containment. Beginning with pure form, she followed its cues, inviting a range of interpretations through graceful mark-making and a series of hand-mixed glazes. Pacific Rim’s scale connects it with the breadth of a human embrace, but in its shape, colour and title it conveys a more expansive sense of place, evoking horizon lines, curling ocean waves and the outline of a whale’s tail.