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Maurice Bennett 1957 – 2016

by Chris Dunn - 30/Jun/2016
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Maurice Bennett a well-known member of Wellington Potters died on Monday the 6th of June. Maurice was 59. We’ve lost an inspired and dynamic artist, and a great friend.

As a young man Maurice had no doubt that he was an artist. In the 1980s he travelled many times to Europe and Japan soaking up art. Back home he worked in retail and created and exhibited his artistic passion. An early exhibition, called “Burning Desire”, was an assembly of found and incinerated objects. He had an exhibition of etchings in Japan and experimented in with torn, draped coloured cloth to convey images and emotions.  He was into Punk Rock and protest.

In the 90’s Maurice discovered toast as an artistic medium, His work gained international recognition and was bought for display by galleries and businesses, especially in China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. His themes included celebrities, iconic humour, and Maori and Pacific island designs and mythology. He twice won awards at Wearable Arts; once with an outfit for “Princess Toast-Alofa”. In his spare time he developed one of the first Wellington craft beers and was the owner/manager of the Island Bay Supermarket with his wife Carolyn and their two daughters.

Maurice’s adventures in clay began in earnest at Wellington Potters around 2009. His work was inspired by natural and geological forms that change through processes such as earthquakes, volcanoes and erosion.  He loved Anagama, raku, and pit firing, approaches that embody the natural energy of fire and clay. He was always experimenting, inspired by New Zealand potters whose work touched his imagination such as Len Castle and Chester Nealie, and by the work of potters overseas.

Maurice visited potteries in Japan and China and wrote lively and interesting articles in the Wellington Potters’ newsletter.  His enthusiasm was reflected in his wide knowledge of potters and in his own collection of their work.

At Wellington Potters Maurice was often involved in club working-bees and activities, he ran raku firings when needed, helped out with Anagama firings, wrote articles for the newsletter, helped with and participated in Ceramics, our annual exhibition, and he organised joint exhibitions with other members. He promoted Wellington potters by writing a weekly article on ceramics in the Wellington Regional News

Maurice lived with cancer for around 15 years. He was determined to challenge himself every day to make progress with his work, and to enjoy as much time as he could with his family and grandchildren.  He was a modest, creative passionate, energetic and courageous person.
Maurice has been an inspiration as much for his personality as for his work. We will miss Maurice very much.

Maurice said: “Life revolves around friendship, it’s not about seeing every place in the world, it’s about enjoying what you’ve got.”


Ceramics NZ


Registered as an incorporated society in 1965 by an enthusiastic group of potters in Wellington, New Zealand, Ceramics NZ has grown to become a significant international voice in New Zealand ceramics. The affiliation of about three dozen independent pottery clubs throughout New Zealand together with a number of corporate businesses greatly increases its effective membership. We are a national, not-for-profit organisation representing the interests of practising potters and ceramicists, students of ceramics and all those interested in New Zealand ceramics. We actively support and promote quality, and we encourage and support specialist ceramics education nationally.
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