An artist in every sense of the word, Steve Fullmer believes in creating pieces of strong character, he has become a master of unexpected associations. American born living in Tasman, his environment generates an abundance of ideas.
A winner of many national ceramic awards, his domestic ware carries the unmistakable Fullmer stamp of ghostly faces, hints of the mysteries of outer space, and the weird and whimsical.
He prefers unglazed surfaces, the coarseness absorbing the lights, reflecting only the tactile quality of the original clay. Once he might have wiped a drip, corrected a slip, but now he allows it to stay. “It’s a mistake and someone had to do it. In fifty years it will be the mark of something made by hand.”
Steve Fullmer was born in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. in 1946 and raised in Southern California near Los Angeles. It was here that his taste for arts and crafts was developed, first in the field of musical instruments making National Steel Guitars where quality was very important, and later discovering clay.
Steve first arrived in New Zealand in 1973 and began production-throwing work in Auckland. Two years later he travelled around Australia and for a while worked as a production thrower for Courtland Pottery in Perth. Now settled near Nelson in New Zealand, he has established a pottery and gallery and fires his work in large wood-fired kilns.
Steve, in this interview ( http://hrncirna.cz/en/galery_guest_fullmer_1.html ) you mentioned hand-potting at Beach Artware in 1973 and 1974 alongside, amongst others, Daniel Steenstra. At the New Zealand Pottery website ( newzealandpottery.forumotion.net ) we are starting to get a handle on unmarked pieces we believe to be from Beach, which after the death of Peter Beach continued trading as Traditional NZ, Kiln Craft, and finally Clay Craft, producing primarily slipcast wares. Any further information you can provide would be very helpful.
Val Monk, author of books on Crown Lynn pottery, has started a topic on Beach Artware hand-potted here: http://newzealandpottery.forumotion.net/t5604-for-gallery-handpotted-beach-artware#21458 . Along with anything else you think may be helpful could you please tell us (1) who else was potting at Beach at the time, (2) was Beach Artware also making slip wares when you were there, and (3) did the individual potters have enough latitude in their work that it would be possible to distinguish the work of one from another, for example overall shapes, shapes of details such as knobs, and surface treatments (etc, etc).
If nothing else it would be much appreciated if you could confirm that the unmarked pieces identified so far actually are from Beach Artware.
Thanking you in advance, Jeremy Ashford.
HELLO MY NAME IS SHARON CODLIN (NEE BEACH) MY PARENTS EVA AND PETER BEACH STARTED THE BEACHARTWARE POTTERY
I AM HAPPY TO HELP WITH INFORMATION
HI STEVE…I AM THRILLED THINGS HAVE GONE SO WELL FOR YOU…DIDN’T YOU WORK FOR ME AT “THE STUDIO POTTERY” IN WHITTIER CA. AROUND 1975-76?…THEN OFF TO AUSTRALIA NORTH COAST? SINCERE REGARDS…LARRY THOMS
Hi..Larry I am not sure if you will get this very late e–mail I have just now found it . I worked for you and John ? 79 and a bit of 80 I think I was replaced by a japanese fellow .Hey!!! Larry you were my best boss I have ever had.I really hope this email finds you in good shape I am in a few days will be 73 . I live in nelson nz. 3 grown up children WOW! I loved working for you guys. I bumped into bobby some years ago at a Paul Soldner show in pomona ca. what a shock ! see you later’ and good luck
My name is Drew Harré I’m a NZer but have lived in Paris for the last 40 years. When I come back to Auckland every year I stop into the Poi room in Newmarket and buy a piece of your pottery. I missed a large salad bowl last time and asked this time if they had another, but no.
Is there any where else you sell in Auckland or France or a website where I could order ?
Hi Steve. I have bought a lot of your work which I love. I am currently living in Perth WA.
I would like to purchase a couple of your ‘Blue Whale’ broad rimmed mugs. Can I do that and what will be the costs to have them sent here to Perth.
Steve, am trying to reach Douglas Fullmer – is he still in the US? We have many of his works which we purchased in 1997 when we met Douglas in Carefree, AZ. Any chance we can get his email address from you? Let him know we have 2 Hopi Women, church, 4 spirit sticks and wall spirit doll of his works. Thank you so much and hope you’re enjoying your life abroad – sounds so interesting to read about you and your accomplishments!
I made the decision years ago that the most intimate objects we live with are the vessels we eat and drink from, and have slowly collected bowls, cups and a beloved tea pot made by Steve… which I use and enjoy every day. Thank you.
My first (virtual) encounter with Steve Fullmer was in 1992 – the image of a young man in front of a wood-fired kiln, cradling a large earthenware flamed and scorched vessel in Maurice Shadbolt’s 1988 “Reader’s Guide to New Zealand”.
The simplicity and intensity of the piece captivated me and my fascination with Steve’s work continues to this day.
We later met at his studio in Tasman and started what has developed into a significant collection of his body of work, initially his quirky domestic ware and progressing over time to larger pieces of sculptural work.
Over time, we’ve enriched the collections of friends in Germany and elsewhere – many of them potters – with gifts of Steve’s work to the extent that children of German potters refuse to eat their breakfast off anything but “Steve’s Teller” (Steve’s bowl).
My epiphanal experience, however, was an image of “Angel” in the August 1995 issue of “North and South” which made its way to my office in Frankfurt, Germany. A deja vu experience of our 1992 encounter, I immediately called Steve – probably at stupid o’clock in the morning – and bought it sight unseen, not even asking the price.
I collected it a year later and transported it – with the assistance of its image in Naomi O’Connor’s “A brief guide to New Zealand Art and Culture” – strapped into a empty seat on a flight to Wellington, occupying the forward lavatory (suddenly “Out of Order”, to the chagrin of Business Class passengers..) to Auckland and – thanks to the heroic efforts of United’s ground staff – in the largest overhead bin to Los Angeles.
This is the power of Steve’s work, be it a plate, a Mudfish, a Reefhead, a Pilot vessel or a sculpture.
His work is instantly recognisable as significant and special, whether by practitioners, collectors or guests at our table.
Steve has remained grounded in the rich traditions and mythology of both his birth country and Aotearoa.
While others might drift with the tides of trendiness and popular taste, Steve’s work stands out like a beacon in a turbulent sea – a steadfast point of orientation. The forms may – no, will – change, surface textures, shades and images may -no, will – develop over time, but the common thread remains: “This can only be a Fullmer.”
A friend and highly regarded and celebrated artist said over dinner recently : “Steve has remained true to himself”
I can think of no greater accolade.
Except perhaps Eva’s comment:
“I made the decision years ago that the most intimate objects we live with are the vessels we eat and drink from, and have slowly collected bowls, cups and a beloved tea pot made by Steve… which I use and enjoy every day. Thank you.”
Thank you, indeed…
I’m in Christchurch for a conference in July. I’m a ceramics artist from Adelaide.
I’m looking to participate in a ceramic work shop whilst in NZ.
Are you running any workshops in late June or early July or do you know of other ceramic artists I might contact please?
Hi Steve. I’ve just chipped a mug I use every day and get much joy from it. Do you have something like it. If you email me I’ll send a photo of it.
Hi Penny, send your photo to my email email@example.com. We do have some polar bear mugs and I can send photos.
Thank you both for the time you spent with Jude & Don during the week. We all loved meeting you both & hearing your story. Jude loves the pieces she bought & now they are off on the rest of there South Island tour.
Hi : I have just bought an absolutely gorgeous Fullmer bowl from Vessel in Wellington. I wanted to check with you whether the glaze is ‘food safe’?
Hi Clare, yes all of Steve’s tableware is food safe.
It’s Jim Burrows here. I visit your gallery each year when ever I’m over visiting Chris and Sue down in Weka Rd.
One of your whales sits on our mantle piece while your mug is used every day for my coffee. Don’t tell Sue I’m using your mug 🙂
I will be over again for 10 days from the 29th Oct. Is it possible to have that black Labrador head for me by then! You may remember us talking about it last November?
Trust all is well and see you soin
Hi Jim, Steve is working on your doghead and it will definitely be done by the time you get here.
Looking forward to my Labby 🙂
See you later this month or early Nov
All the best
Hi Robyn. I purchased two dog heads a few years ago now, I had no idea that Steve can make them via commission. I now have three of my own real dogs and would love to know how much it would cost to get Steve to make me two? Thanks so much.
Hi Kim, can you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you photos of the dogheads we have in stock. They are $135.00 each.
I’d like to have about 12 gulls to make an installation in our kitchen please Steve.
Also an artist
What are the dimensions please.
Hi . I bought a large Brown cup with a polar bear on it. Alas dropped it.!
Is it possible to buy another
Kia ora Steve.
I am your nephew’s lecturer at VUW. Clarence told me about you when he spotted a piece of your work in our ceramics collection. I’m coming through to Nelson soon and would love to visit you
Please can you advise if you still have the pig as advertised in your new stuff.
Also please can you send me photos of your current large cups