Barry Brickell

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1935, d.2016

Loco boiler (with alternative stacks for warming the hands)

  • 1976
  • Terracotta
  • Purchased, 1976
  • 260 x 530 x 170mm
  • 89/45

Barry Brickell began working with clay at the age of fifteen in 1950 and the following year built his first kiln at his parents’ home in Devonport, Auckland. He started exhibiting his pots in 1955. After a two-term stint in 1961 teaching high school art and science in the Coromandel, he resigned and set out to become a full-time potter. After purchasing a small block of land in the area, he also embarked on the creation of his renowned Driving Creek Railway and Potteries complex. In 1975 construction got under way on an elaborate 266mm gauge railway that was originally intended for transporting clay and firewood fuel to his studio and kilns but later became a visitor attraction. Loco boiler, which seems to encapsulate Brickell’s lifelong dual fascination with steam engines and the possibilities of clay, was purchased from the New Zealand Society of Potters exhibition in Christchurch in 1976.

(Leaving for Work 2 October 2021 - 1 May 2022)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Locomotive is a delightful piece of whimsy, prompted by Barry Brickell’s fascination with steam trains. At his property in the Coromandel Barry Brickell built the only narrow-gauge mountain railway in New Zealand. He built it so he could have access to the clay and wood he needed for his kiln, without doing damage to the environment. Although made entirely of clay, this locomotive and its funnels look like iron, with convincing rivets and joins. Leaving the surface unglazed, the iron oxides in the clay suggest a rusty steam engine. It shows Brickell’s complete understanding and mastery of the fired clay process. A pioneer among New Zealand potters, he developed a completely original style. Born in Taranaki, Brickell first began to work with clay in 1950, after exploring the local gas and firebrick works in Devonport, Auckland. His first major exhibition was at the Auckland City Art Gallery in 1959. He exhibited throughout New Zealand and internationally and wrote extensively on New Zealand pottery. Barry Brickell died in 2016.