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"Len Castle, Potter"
  By: Len Castle
Summary

"A pictorial, potted history of one of our greatest potters"

This 250-page, handsome volume demonstrates conclusively that potter Len Castle is one of New Zealand's living treasures. He has continuously achieved world standards in a career that has lasted more than 50 years, and is one of this country's few truly great artists. It is a piece of good fortune that this beautiful book can be enjoyed while the artist is in full possession of his creative powers, not a decade or two after his death.
 


Review

Book Review from the New Zealand Herald, Monday Dec 2, 2002.

$99.95. Published by Sang Architects, 11 Glenfell Place, Epsom, Auckland, 1003.
Reviewed by Peter Simpson (an associate professor of English at the University of Auckland.)

"A pictorial, potted history of one of our greatest potters"

This 250-page, handsome volume demonstrates conclusively that potter Len Castle is one of New Zealand's living treasures. He has continuously achieved world standards in a career that has lasted more than 50 years, and is one of this country's few truly great artists. It is a piece of good fortune that this beautiful book can be enjoyed while the artist is in full possession of his creative powers, not a decade or two after his death.

The book is somewhat unconventional as it has no author as such. It is a
miscellany of brief "chapters", many written by Castle on various periods and activities in his life, under such headings as "1947 - 1955 The Salt Glazed Pots", or "1966 - 67 First Visit to Japan", or "Sea Secrets and Fossils" and so on.

Castle is an excellent writer and one occasionally wishes these brief entries were longer as they are informative and eloquent. For example, on the nature of the bowl: "Bowls are my favourite forms, they are basic to everyday needs and historically, common to all cultures. They have tactile appeal, provide easy access to their contents and can show a stimulating relationship between the contained and the container. They offer the eye an opportunity to appraise their inner and outer surfaces. Between base and rim they may turn in on themselves, or from their feet, flare, so the eye travels beyond the rim with the suggestion that they are penetrating space."

Parts of the text are written by others, as with T.J. McNamara's essay
"Ascent" in 1969, or Douglas Lloyd Jenkins' essay about the 1950s, taken
from the catalogue of "Let the Molecules Dance", a Castle retrospective
exhibition held in 1994.

The most extensive essay, "Len Castle, Artisan and Alchemist", a biography by Nancy Pel, is especially valuable. Using photos, including one of 3-year-old Len making vigorous use of his mother's rolling pin, it explores Castle's family background, including generations of artists and craftsmen.

The text is fully adequate, but the photos are the book's chief glory. More than a dozen photographers are credited, including Brian Brake, Steve Rumsey, Howard Williams and the potter himself.

Some show Castle at work in his environment, such as the fine black-and-white shot of him laden with pots striding a path against a background of Titirangi kauri, while others are studies of landscapes and natural features from the environs in which he has lived, worked and drawn his inspiration.

Most of the images are of the many dozens of pots in all their protean colours, shapes and textures. Often, the juxtapositions of pots and of nature are apt and revealing, as in the placing of an image of a vivid orange, lichen-coloured stone next to a lipped bowl with similar tonings, or the many spectacular photos of volcanic and geothermal landscapes juxtaposed with the scarlet and turquoise glazed bowls of Castle's recent series.
Pictorially, this is the best book on a New Zealand artist I have seen. 
It is a visual feast.

Courtesy Rodney Times (8.10.02) 

Date Entered: 04-May-2013