The 1970s was a flourishing time for art and culture in New Zealand. With its wonderful scenery, agreeable climate and access to raw materials, Nelson was a magnet for those who dreamt of making their living through clay. It was into this fertile environment that American Steve Fullmer arrived in 1976, establishing a workshop in rural Mahana with his partner, Robin. He built Nelson’s first wood-fired kiln and produced planters and domesticware. While visiting his family, Steve was drawn to the desert pueblo pottery of the Southwest and the abstract work of contemporary American potters. These were to remain important influences on him.
Raised in Southern California, Steve always had a creative streak and liked nothing better than to work with his hands. He studied pottery and drawing in the 1970s alongside working as an instrument maker for the company National Steel Guitars.
Steve has respect for traditions but is in no way bound by them. He loves manipulating the medium and processes to create work that reflects who he is. That he draws inspiration from his environment is evident in the forms he produces and the whimsical drawings adorning his work.
Many of the potters who arrived in the 70s have now stepped back from the hard physical demands of working with clay, but in his Tasman studio Steve continues to be inspired and to make work that is remarkably fresh and creative. Through all the pressures of life, he manages to be true to his art.
Alongside Steve’s magnificent piece, Make/Shift Spaces installed a translucent ‘skin’ on the left window. Artist/graphic designer Klaasz Breukel (This Is Them) created the design, which was backlit to give it a lovely glow.
This installation had its first outing for a few weeks in August/September 2019, and then again for just four days in February/March 2021.