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Nola Barron

I was born in Christchurch in 1931. My first interest in Art was when I joined a painting class with John Oakley who was a lecturer at the Canterbury School of Art.


My introduction to pottery was about 1963 at Yvonne Rust’s Studio of Design in Christchurch.

In the mid 1960’s I built a workshop and a two- chambered oil fired down-draught kiln at our home.  The kiln was to a design by Roy Cowan modified by David Brokenshire.  It worked very well for many years producing a range of stoneware pottery fired to 1300 degrees Celsius.                                                         

Clay was obtained from Ian McPherson who mined and processed it on his property at Mapua in Nelson.   At the time there was little printed information about glazes so every firing contained tests often using powdered rock and ash. Later, I used a white glaze based on a Daniel Rhodes Formula as I found this enhanced the sculptural forms I was making at that time.
In 1963 the Canterbury Potters Association (C P A) was established. I served as Treasurer on the inaugural committee and was involved with the association for many years; exhibiting in their annual exhibitions, as a selector, and as delegate to the New Zealand Potters Society. I attended most of the lectures, schools and demonstrations organised by the association featuring local and overseas potters.  I was later elected as an honorary life member of the C P A.
In 1964 I was accepted as a member of the New Zealand Society of Potters     (renamed  Ceramics New Zealand in 2008) when membership was dependent upon having a pot accepted for the Annual Exhibition. I exhibited with the Society from 1964 to 1986, served on the committee for several years as Canterbury Delegate and was later elected as an honorary life member.

In addition to private collectors and museums, my work was purchased by several corporate institutions, including B N Z (for its New York office) and for an office building in Wellington.
Examples of my work are included in the following Public Institutions.

Canterbury Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu ,
Canterbury Museum, 
Quartz Museum Whanganui, 
University of Canterbury, C P A Collection.

I developed an interest in decorative panels and made up of a series of glazed tiles, each about 400 mm x 200 mm, mounted on a horizontal wooden base approximately 1.5  to 2.0 metres long. These proved popular and I received several commissions, including one for Christchurch Girls High School (where I had been a student from 1944 – mid 1948)

Following on from my interest in sculptural forms in clay I decided to extend my work to other materials; I was commissioned to make a G R P  (Fibreglass) form to decorate a home in Cashmere and designed a fibre glass panel for a factory.      Cast Aluminium, and Bronze were used to produce some sculptural pieces.  These items were often from clay models.

Wishing to extend my knowledge of design, in the mid 1970’s, I enrolled in a three year part- time course at University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts studying Design, Sculpture and Painting and printmaking.
In 1967 I was invited to join “The Group” and exhibited in their shows until 1977 when this organisation ceased.

I was also a foundation member of the NZ Society of Sculptors and Painters and entered my work in their exhibitions.


In 1977 I was engaged as Director of the Canterbury Society of Arts (C S A) Gallery at 66 Gloucester Street, Christchurch. This was a full time position and left little time or energy to pursue my own work.                                         

During my ten year term I arranged and supervised up to 90 exhibitions per year in the gallery’s six exhibition areas. Almost all of New Zealand’s leading artists exhibited their work, either as part of a group or as one person shows at that time.

My husband and I have travelled widely. Highlights include – 1982  Mashiko, Japan (Shoji Hamada’s workshop and kiln)  and  1987 Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture studio in Cornwall, England.  We visited Art Galleries and Museums in U S A, Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and Australia. Notable was the 1982 visit to The Ohara Museum in Kurashiki Japan: a privately owned gallery which contains the most extensive collection of Western Art in Japan. In addition, they show selected examples of the work of Japan’s leading potters –  Kenkichi Tomitoto,  Kanjiro Kawai, and  Shoji Hamada. Also on display is a collection of pots by Bernard Leach – an English Potter who worked for many years in Japan and is highly regarded. 
I had the privilege of visiting many artists in their studios in both New Zealand and Australia.

Tribute In all my endeavours I have had the greatest assistance from a loyal and dedicated staff, elected committees and wonderful artists; above all the support of my devoted husband.  
List of Exhibitions
My work has been exhibited with the following organisations.
Key to abbreviations.
N Z S P             =    New Zealand Society of Potters name changed in 2008 to                                            Ceramics New Zealand 
C P A                =   Canterbury Potters Association
C S A                =   Canterbury Society of Arts
C A  G              =   Canterbury Art Gallery
N Z A F A        =   New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts (Wellington)
T G                   =   The Group 1927/1977
N Z S S P         =    New Zealand Society of Sculptors and Painters 

Exhibition Date Location Number of Entries Accepted 
N Z S P  National 1964 Wellington 4
N Z S P National 1965 Auckland
N Z S P National 1966 Christchurch 8
N Z S P National 1967 Palmerston Nth 6
N Z S P National 1968 Dunedin 5
N Z S P National 1968 Travelling Exhibition 3
N Z S P National 1969 Auckland 4
N Z S P National (Exhibition C’tee) 1971 Christchurch 4
N Z S P National 1972 Wellington 2
N Z S P National 1973 Dunedin 3
N Z S P National 1974 Auckland 4
N Z S P National (Selector)  1975 Hastings 4
N Z S P National (Exhibition C’tee) 1976 Christchurch 5
N Z S P National 1977 Wellington 2
N Z S P National Tile Panel 1978 Hamilton  
N Z S P National Sculptural Form 1979 Invercargill  
N Z S P National 1981 Palmerston Nth 2
N Z S P National 1983 New Plymouth 1
N Z S P National (Selector) Installation 1986 Christchurch  

C P A - Exhibited in annual exhibitions from 1967 – 1980 - Christchurch

C P A - 1979 - Christchurch - First exhibited a Tile Panel (9 tiles mounted horizontally.) entitled  “First Snow”. This was later exhibited at the N Z A F A and purchased to decorate the foyer of a Wellington corporate building.

C P A - 1988/9 - Christchurch - 25th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibition. My entry - a stoneware sculptural form 338 mm h x 163 mm d was purchased by the McDougal Art Gallery and is now part of the collection of the C A G.

N Z A F A - 1965 (8) 1966 (6)  1967 (7)  1969 (4)  1976 (4)
1993 - “Academy Women” – A century of inspiration. ( Bronze Sculpture – “Honour the land”.)

C S A - from 1975 to 1980 and in Presidents Exhibitions  1986 and 1993Christchurch.  I  Exhibited in the annual Summer and Autumn Exhibitions

T G - 1967 to 1977 (Bronze Sculptures and Ceramics)

C P A 1979 Christchurch First exhibited a Tile Panel (9 tiles mounted horizontally.) entitled  “First Snow”. This was later exhibited at the N Z A F A and purchased to decorate the foyer of a Wellington corporate building.

I also exhibited in Masterton 1974 & 1976    (Bronze Sculptures), Palmerston North 1973, New Plymouth 1986 and was selector and guest potter in Dunedin (1971) and Invercargill (1972)

The N Z S S P was formed 1970. In their first exhibition I showed “Neurons”  -a fibreglass fountain and the following year their touring exhibition included one of my ceramic sculptures.

At a Christchurch  exhibition,  held in conjunction with the 1974 Commonwealth Games, I was one of 21 New Zealand potters invited to take part  (each permitted 4 pots).
My work ( Sculptural forms both earthenware and stoneware) was accepted for the 1977 and 1978 Fletcher Brown-built Pottery Awards Exhibitions.
Invited to submit work for “Ceramics ‘86” mounted by the New Plymouth Gallery, I entered an assemblage labelled “Clay works form/function.”

I have always enjoyed the discipline of ceramics and the people concerned and recommend to you the challenges you will meet.

Contact Details
03 351 9255
027 484 4915
Postal Address
Unit 56
56 Colwyn St
Christchurch 8053
New Zealand
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