"I found my way to John Parker..."collector's statement

Frank Stark

I found my way to the work of John Parker not throughLucie Rie and crafty modernism, but through junk shops and flea markets in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Along with many of my friends I spent a lot of that time, and as little money as possible, hunting for treasure amongst the trash.

While others built up formidable collections of Poole or Susie Cooper, I concentrated on plain, white vases and bowls from Crown Devon, Spode, Crown Lynn or Keith Murray's Wedgwood. I didn't have any real knowledge of their provenance other than a kind of vague nationalism about Crown Lynn and, by extension, Murray.

It was only with Gail Lambert's book on New Zealand pottery and other reading about modernism in the late 1980s that I was able to fit my impulses into any kind of context. Despite (or perhaps because of) an intense immersion in the politics of pottery around the same time, I never did make a connection with the mainstream of contemporary New Zealandceramics. I did, however, find John Parker and in his work the architecture of forms and surfaces which had obsessed me in the studio ware I had collected so avidly.

I now have 12 Parkers, most of them white. They cluster around the house, mingling with the Crown Lynn. For me they are a celebration of the search for the ideal and the impossibility of ever quite attaining it.They embody the satisfaction that comes from the constant re-solving of a limited but profound set of problems.

Frank Stark is the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Film Archive and has been a journalist, editor, film maker and, for a time, Director of the Crafts Council.