Frommer’s Destinations – New Zealand
Potter Steve Fullmer, Baldwin Road, Tasman (tel. 03 526-6765; email@example.com), is one of the country’s best.
Fullmer, an American artist, has drawn on the American Indian tradition of hand-built forms. He has used a coarsely textured clay mix to create the quality of aged skin.
Fullmer was born in Oregon in the United States. He trained at Long Beach Junior College and arrived in New Zealand in 1973. He settled in the Nelson area in 1976 and has his own studio workshop. Fullmer has won three Fletcher Brown Built national ceramic awards and was one of a small group of artists to exhibit in the New Zealand Trade Exhibition at Expo 88 in Brisbane. Since then, Fullmer has exhibited internationally. In 1992 he was commissioned to create ceramic work for the ‘Treasures of the Underworld’ exhibition in the New Zealand Pavilion at the World Expo in Seville, Spain.
Steve Fullmer, an American who went to New Zealand in 1973 and married a New Zealander, has twice won the Fletcher Challenge Pottery Award, an international competition, for his distinctive work, which shows a definite folk art influence. He is known particularly for his mudfish, big fanciful creatures in washes of cool colors, that have a hole for an eye and are often perched on clunky legs. These pieces, basically sculptural, are invariably included in a Fullmer exhibition. ”I think they’re a hoot,” says the potter, who colors the fish in yellows and blues with a grayish face or in warm pink with touches of green and turquoise feet on brown legs.
Classic forms take on a new dimension when glazed in striking colors of blue, lilac, purple and turquoise with a surface the potter describes as having ”a soft sugar-frosted glow.” Sometimes Mr. Fullmer uses a sharp instrument to incise subtle messages or designs on his vessels. One pot, for example, has three little crosses on it, along with Pat, Don and Jim, his tribute to three potters who have died. Prices start at $21 for little pots with designs in blues and greens reminiscent of the American Southwest. Fish cost $191 to $223 and eel bowls, a new departure, are around $204. These double-walled vessels in blue and brown have an eel’s head protruding from one hole in the rim, its tail from another. As a rule, top price for a Fullmer pot is around $320, although an important one-off piece could run as high as $600.
The 1987 Award exhibition was the first occasion on which two potters were jointly awarded the Premier prize. They were Chester Nealie (NZ) …….and Steve Fullmer (NZ) for a vessel which, as judge John Maltby of England put it, exemplified the essence of modern ceramic expression.
Earthenware Fletcher Brownbuilt Potter Award, Premier Award Winner 1986
Low fired and with its sharp angles startlingly different in form from the usual New Zealand style. This work has a lead-based glaze. Fullmer often alludes to the Southwest of the USA in both titles and colours of his work.
Cutting a New Orbit
Earthenware Fletcher Challenge Ceramics Award, Premier Award Winner 1987
Soft fired and coloured with a variety of stains and glazes. The surface also has been lightly sgraffitoed.