Emma Zhang is a young potter based in Warkworth who grew up in Shenzhen, China. Since discovering clay as a medium, through which she can express her creativity, she has quickly become part of the local craft scene and is grateful for the help she has received to further her interest.
“The more exposure I have to experienced potters, the more passionate and inspired I feel about the possibilities of what I can create. Established local potters Judy Wood and Rick Urban have been so generous with their advice and encouragement.”
Earlier this year Emma travelled to Jingdezhen, China where pottery has been produced for 2,000 years. The experience made her more aware of the timelessness of the art. She saw for herself the way techniques have been handed down and refined over a hundred generations. Emma’s trade name ‘Rui Ceramics’ reflects her regard for this tradition. Rui is her Chinese name meaning ‘first snow of the spring’.
She is also inspired by the beauty of the New Zealand landscape, particularly the beaches in Kawau Bay close to her home. Mixing her own glazes, she is mindful of the earthy tones of sand and soil and the blue-green of the sea in all its moods.
While her emphasis at the moment is to produce domestic homeware, beautiful as well as functional, she takes every opportunity to further her experience by attending workshops at Auckland Studio Potters.
A project Emma is undertaking with her Kiwi husband Jon is the conversion of a building on their Warkworth property to create a pottery studio. When completed this will house a kiln and also give space to display her pottery.
Recognition of the quality of her work came in 2018 when she was awarded a merit award at the ‘Dream On’ Rodney Art Competition and a number of galleries throughout New Zealand currently exhibit her work.
Emma is also enthusiastic about passing on the skills she has learned to the next generation. “As a mother I see myself as a role model for my children. Putting their hands in the clay and getting creative is a great experience. Through art we deliver a message paying homage to the past. Pottery is the way I express myself, it has changed my life.”
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