From the Earth

I joined the Hakatere Ceramics and Pottery Club at the beginning of the year and I entered six pieces in their exhibition as well as creating and donating a tile for the group project.

You are here, Tile

My, You are here, tile is a reasonably accurate hand drawn scale map of the Ashburton District featuring State Highway 1 (red), State Highway 77 and State Highway 79 (yellow) as well as the major roads and rivers. It was created from a slab of Whitestone clay with the features inscribed and painted with oxides and underglazes and then fired with a clear glaze.

You are here, Ceramic Tile, approx 200x200mm
You are here tile, before bisque firing.
Tiles, Hakatere Ceramics and Pottery Club group project in their From the Earth exhibition at Ashburton Art Gallery.
Nest vessel, Blue vessel, House of neglect, Hexagon Vase, Flying pig money box, Ring; ceramics.
Nest vessel, Blue vessel, House of neglect, Hexagon Vase, Flying pig money box, Ring; ceramics.

Nest vessel

I squeezed clay through a cookie press to create fine coils and formed them into a nest shaped vessel. Colored with red, blue and yellow underglazes and fired with a clear glaze this pot won the Best Novice Hand Work in the exhibition.

Nest vessel newly formed. Clay
Nest vessel, after glazing and final firing.

Blue vessel

My first attempt at creating a vessel on the wheel, this simple pot has a turquoise glaze.

Bowl and blue vessel (right), first wheel work prior to glazing.
Bowl and blue vessel (right) after final firing.

House of neglect

A slab work tower resembling a ruin decorated with black glaze.

Hexagon vase

A slab work hexagon shaped vase with oxides on the exterior and black glaze interior.

Flying pig money box

A functional sculpture of a hollow flying pig with a slot to accept coins. Coins can be retrieved through a hole on the underside covered with a ceramic stopper.

Flying pig money box, after final firing.


A fleur-de-lis extruded from a cookie press and joined to a coil of clay formed this large wearable ring fired with a black glaze.

Ring, after bisque firing, prior to glazing.
Ring, after black glaze firing.

The Hakatere Ceramics and Pottery Club’s exhibition “From the Earth” is at the Ashburton Art Gallery from 18 October to 19 November 2023.

Rock, Paper, Scissors

I like making literal art. And with an abundance of scissors left over from Don’t Fly With Scissors and Don’t Run With Scissors, I created Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Rock/Paper/Scissors (approx 60x60x8cm) in Ashburton Art Gallery

Creating the hand shapes representing the traditional Rock, Paper, Scissors game with paper and scissors was fairly straight forward, but carving the Rock and Scissors from rock was much more challenging and time consuming. The soft limestone Paper rock was deliberately used to give the softer look for Paper, but I sourced a couple of harder rocks from the river and chiselled away at them for Rock and Scissors.

Early in the carving process of rock Rock and Scissors

The rock Rock, Paper and Scissors are carved on all sides

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Rock/Paper/Scissors (approx 60x60x8cm), top view


Rock, Paper, Scissors was entered in the Ashburton Society of Arts’ 59th Annual Exhibition and was available for sale at the Ashburton Art Gallery from 4-28 July 2023.

Did you know there was once a $20 million game of Rock, Paper, Scissors?

In 2005, a Japanese Corporation decided to auction their artworks and had the famous art auction houses compete for the privilege with a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. You can read about it on Artsy or listen to a podcast about it on 99% Invisible.


This year, I joined Hakatere Ceramics and Pottery Ashburton to learn more skills and make art with clay.

Pocket is a handwork piece that I formed after the noticing the canvas pattern left from rolling the clay. I carved the stitching and added clay for the stud features and after drying, I bisque fired the piece.

The club held a Raku Firing day and so I glazed Pocket with a copper glaze on the studs and another glaze I have forgotten the name of. Raku Firing is exciting. The work is heated to over 1000 ºC and then quickly removed from the hot kiln and placed into a combustible material and starved of oxygen to produce a myriad of colors in the glazes and black where the clay was unglazed. The results are often unexpected.

Pocket, ceramic, approx 20 x 20 x 4 cm
Pocket, ceramic, approx 20 x 20 x 4 cm

Pocket has been entered in the Ashburton Society of Arts’ 59th Annual Exhibition and is available for sale at the Ashburton Art Gallery from 4-28 July 2023.

Pocket (ceramic) at Ashburton Art Gallery

You’ve got mail

Back in May, I built a mailbox for the Ashburton Society of Arts to save them the annual cost of a PO Box.

Postbox, front, reclaimed materials sculpture,

Constructed from the frame of an old microwave, pallet offcuts, a roasting dish and the rubber from an electrical cable the mailbox not only saves in the cost of new parts, but also saves these items from the landfill. The PVC tube is round on the front and rectangular on the back and was sculpted into this unique shape with heat. Painted postbox red, the mailbox is attached to the fence at the Art Society’s Gallery and Studio at 53 Short St, Ashburton.

Postbox front/side
Postbox front/side
Postbox rear
Postbox inside
Mailbox installed at 53 Short St.
Mailbox installed at 53 Short St.

The mailbox was entered in the 2022 Resene Upcycling Awards.

Get your art online workshop

I’ve been helping artists get their art online since 1998. To help local artists get online, I ran a workshop at the Ashburton Art Society studio on 29 October.

Workshop promo, digital image

The workshop covered using social media and websites to share and sell art online. We started by looking at what online presence the artists already had and how to increase their online presence.

We then looked at creating content and sharing this via social media as well as joining art communities online so more people could view their art.

As a result of the workshop, the artists now all have Facebook pages (or improved Facebook pages) and are exploring other ways to share their art online. They have had a month to post content so explore their art and encourage them by following them here:

Annie Robertson Art

Artist – Sue Simpson – New Zealand

Barbara Jaine Artist

John Achten Artist

Rach jemmett ART

Sally Hughes Art

Zdena’s Art

I am planning to run another workshop in 2023.

Advent Song

When I was a child, our grandparents would travel eight hours to visit us at Christmas time. Nana was a caterer and she would bring a load of sweet treats like her peanut brownies and melting moments so soft they would melt in your mouth. Poppa was a real life Santa Claus – him and Nana would often give presents to Birthright kids. So when we heard they were coming for Christmas we got super excited. Mum tried to get us to clean the house, but we would spend more time looking out the window and trying to be the first kid to see them coming down the road.

I have often thought that God is like that with us. Jesus told the parable of the lost (prodigal) son, which is really about a forgiving father. In Middle Eastern culture it is undignified to run, especially to greet someone who has dishonored the family, yet this father runs to meet his lost son.

Advent song, 5 min live video recording, Sunday 19 December 2021

Perhaps you are like Sarah who laughed in disbelief when she got the promise of a son in her old age, or like Hannah fervently waiting for a child. Maybe you are like Anna and Simeon waiting to see the promised Messiah. Or Mary or Martha. The lyrics are deliberately ambiguous as to who is singing to who – perhaps God is waiting at the window for you to return to him or to meet with him again. Perhaps he is like the grandparents coming with presents and good things to meet with you.


G D Em C

Verse 1

When I heard you were coming
I could hardly believe it 
I was so excited 
I had trouble sleeping 

The house was a mess 
Floor needed sweeping 
But my nose was at the window 
Looking for you 

Verse 2

You were bearing gifts 
But the treasure I was seeking 
The greatest gift of all
To be in your Presence 

The news of your advent
Had me joyful weeping 
Overwhelming hope of spending 
Time with you



made Man
With us
To dwell 

With us



Am Em

And you came running 
And swept me in your arms

Egg Faced – A song where the chords spell the major lyrics

Egg Faced, video (lyrics, chords and music) 2:22
Egg faced single cover, digital image

Over the last few weeks, I have written and refined this comical song where the chords spell out the major lyrics. Or perhaps, the major lyrics tell you which chords to play. The above video is an early demo version of the song with the chords and lyrics.

I have written several other songs and instrumental pieces and I hope that these will eventually be recorded and published.

Don’t Fly With Scissors

I had many scissors left over from my acquisition of relinquished scissors from the New Zealand Aviation Security Service for my Rock, Paper, Scissors sculptures and so I was experimenting with shapes I could form with scissors and stumbled upon an avian shape.

With many forgetful passengers relinquishing scissors and other hazardous items at airport security gates, creating sculptures that reminded people to be careful when flying seemed obvious. Four harmonious pairs of scissors are wired together for each sculpture.

Don’t Fly With Scissors #1, Red and black scissors/wire, 27 x 33 x 7 cm
Don’t Fly With Scissors #2, Blue, red and black scissors/wire, 30 x 30 x 6 cm

Due to size, comfort and safety issues, it is not recommended to fly with scissors. With their aerodynamics, they would most likely fly like sheep and rather plummet. If the scissors could fly, I imagine they would soar similar to this video:

Don’t Fly With Scissors Flying, video 1:48 (no audio)

Don’t Run With Scissors

Like most of my work, Don’t Run With Scissors is a visual pun and pokes fun at both the art world and luxury sneaker consumers with a single impractical but wearable shoe sculpture made from scissors.

I had acquired a large number of relinquished scissors from the New Zealand Aviation Security Service for my Rock, Paper, Scissors sculptures. With the remaining scissors I started to create some other sculptures, the most obvious ones being the aircraft/bird shaped Don’t Fly With Scissors. While constructing these, my thoughts progressed to the childhood warning “Don’t Run With Scissors” and thus formed the idea of creating an impractical running shoe made with scissors.

Don’t Run With Scissors, scissors/paper/thread sculpture approx 22 x 33 x 25 cm

Creating the shoe

Using my own foot as a model for the proportions, I wired together scissors to get the basic shape and then at the Ashburton MenzShed, I bent and welded the scissors into place. I then used waxed thread and the plastic handles of a pair of scissors to form the laces. After this I created a tongue/upper of the shoe from layers of paper which I glued and then hand stitched a waxed thread edging. I hand embroidered the logo onto more layered paper and attached this to the shoe. I wrapped thread around any wires connecting the scissors to hide them and make the shoe slightly more comfortable.

Creating the branding and shoebox

I checked the translation of scissors in as many languages as I could and the Hungarian word for scissors, olló, was the word that I thought most resembled a pair of scissors and had the potential for a shoe brand.

Don’t Run With Scissors shoebox lid, paper/inkjet print/acrylic paint, approx 22 x 33 x 3 cm

Using papier-mâché I recycled and exaggerated a shoebox to fit the shoe and serve as a plinth for the sculpture. Acrylic paint and inkjet prints of the logos and labels give the box the look of an authentic product. The QR code on the price label can be decoded to a link to this article about the sculpture on the artist’s website. The pricing is that of the sculpture and is deliberately ridiculous in fitting with the range of luxury sneakers – shoes that are ridiculously expensive and designed to look like running shoes, but not intended for running in.

Wearing the shoe

The shoe is a tight fit for my left foot and so the sizing is equivalent to 46 EU / 12 UK / 13 US / 29.5 CM. During the sculpting of the shoe, it has also fitted my right foot but is currently too difficult to put on. Walking with the shoe is possible, but slightly uncomfortable. It has the feeling of a heavy boot. Running while wearing the shoe has not been attempted and is not recommended as it may damage the shoe or the surroundings.

Wearing the Don’t Run With Scissors sculpture

Exhibiting the shoe

This sculpture has been entered into the Ashburton Society of the Arts 2021 Annual Exhibition at the Ashburton Art Gallery. The exhibition runs from the opening on Monday 5 July 2021 to Friday 30 July 2021.

On stage

It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby

Time Warp. Photo by Ashburton Online.

I was recently on stage again in Variety Theatre Ashburton’s Its Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby. Featuring over 30 songs, the show had the tagline “The Songs we Sing to, Dance to, Laugh to and Cry to” and it did that with songs grouped into brackets such as The Flirtys, Country Classics, One Hit Wonders, Love Hurts Sometimes, Kiwi Classics and Inspirational. A bracket of songs on domestic violence titled “It’s Not OK EVER” was emotionally powerful and to lighten the mood it followed with the audience singing along to Sweet Caroline and Delilah. I played the role of a reluctant volunteer beside an overly enthusiastic volunteer with cue cards for the songs.

It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby Programme
In the Dungeon (dressing room). Photo by Ashburton Online.
And then I kissed her. Photo by Ashburton Online.
Trouble. Photo by Ashburton Online.
Time Warp. Photo by Ashburton Online.
Pretty Girl. Photo by Ashburton Online.
Don’t mess around with Jim. Photo by Ashburton Online.
Don’t mess around with Kim. Photo by Ashburton Online.

Ashburton Online has more photos of the show on Flickr.


As you can see from the above photos, I played a variety of mostly comedic roles – Loser Sidekick, Disinterested Cue Card Holder, Tough Guy, Zombie, Pretty Girl, Jim and a Balloon Boy in the Just One More bracket. There were several quick costume changes as well as makeup for some complete transformations. Curling my hair took ages was worth it for the laughs when I turned around in Pretty Girl.


The show was enjoyed by all those I talked to and local media published some reviews.

30 Year Hiatus

It has been about 30 years since I last performed on stage, so it was great to get back into singing, dancing and acting. As a child I was incredibly shy, but since being involved in theatre I have overcome the fear of performing in public and during this show I was never nervous. I am keen to join the next production – auditions are being held soon for JC Superstar.

Coincidentally just after opening night, a video of the show that first got me started in theatre was shared on YouTube [warning: 2.5 hours of low quality audio and video]. I never saw Woodville Little Theatre’s show Brylcreem live in 1986, but rumour about the show and after-party motivated me to want to join the back stage crew for their next production. With this in mind I went along to rehearsals of Streetcats in 1988 intending to be in the background but I got cast in the show and made my debut on stage.