Captured within the work of Royce McGlashen is the entire spectrum of life. From vast galaxies to the smallest shell, his forms and decoration are inspired by the world around us.
70 for 70 celebrates McGlashen’s 70th birthday with 70 new works by this master potter. All created in 2019 the 70 ceramic works are each a variation on the tableware staple – the plate. But why plates? McGlashen admits that the reason he decided to create 70 plates is that he doesn’t like making them. By their nature they are flat, so not the most interesting, challenging or fun object for potters to produce. To make the plate creatively exciting McGlashen has experimented with its form and used its surface for showcasing his skills as a painter and decorator of ceramics.
Accompanying the 70 ceramics are paintings made by McGlashen. Painting has been an important part of his artistic output, and that his two practices are symbiotic is made clear in this exhibition. His fluid and expressive brush strokes translate across both mediums. The paintings also serve to show the artistic quality of the ceramics McGlashen makes. Tableware has been a staple of his practice during his five decades as a potter. His bowls, platters, plates and mugs are in daily use by countless people around the world. Our intimate relationship with these objects is unique and when we own a plate made by a maker such as McGlashen, we are privileged to be able to not just live with an artwork, but use it.
Scattered throughout the exhibition are examples of objects that have influenced McGlashen’s form, colours and textures. The wave motif on a minute shell, layers of fabric, a fallen leaf and delicately textured bark join the paintings in revealing the ways in which McGlashen’s eye seeks out inspiration everywhere. He finds beauty in the seasons, stars, sea, language, history and travel and translates what he observes, both literally and conceptually, into his work.
In 70 for 70 there are nods to McGlashen’s earliest works – the colours of his days at Waimea Pottery in the 1960s and 1970s, his poppies of the 1980s, and the landscapes that have characterised his work across multiple decades – but McGlashen is not beholden to the past. He uses this history to push his work forward and has created brand new forms, designs and surfaces for this exhibition, proving that he continues to be a formidable creative force.