Steve Fullmer arrived in New Zealand in 1973 on a working holiday. In 1976 he established his own studio and a wood firing kiln in Mahana, Nelson. His early influences were the studio potters but he soon found the need to create his own aesthetic using coloured slips and alternate firing techniques. His passion was and still is the creation of the shape, the throwing or handbuilding of the piece.
Although Steve’s ceramic artworks have won him numerous accolades including twice winning the Fletcher Challenge Award his domestic ware has become the mainstay of his business. For Steve it is equally important that the bowl we eat from is beautiful and functional. His tableware still carries the unmistakeable Fullmer stamp of ghostly faces, hints of the mysteries of outer space and the strange and whimsical. He loves his work to have the mark of the maker in it, often unglazed surfaces, drips and other signs that this is the work of an individual artist not a machine. For this reason all Steve’s work is handmade and decorated by him.
1. How, when, where and why did you begin with pottery?
My Brother Douglas and two of his best friends took a pottery class at the local Junior College (like a Polytechnic). It was 1970 and I was taking drawing and design classes thinking this was most likely the direction I would end up in. Also to my surprise my brother kept bringing home sums of money he had made from selling pottery to other students. This had quite an effect on me as well. I really like the permanence of a fired piece of clay and one could glaze it in so many ways. I finally took a day class in another Junior College in Long Beach California in 1972 and I really caught the bug of working with my hands, being able to colour it with similar materials then fire it to make it hard. Wow!