Building on local achievements
Internationally renowned potter lived in Greytown. Photo from Wairarapa Times. Their article can be found here Potter’s work heading to Te Papa.
An exhibition of pottery by the late James Greig opened in early December 2016 and ran for three months in the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt. Rhondda Greig, his widow and an artist has cared for James’ work since he died in Japan 30 years ago. The couple and their two children had lived first in Maungakaramea, Northland, before they moved in 1968 to Greytown where he set up his first Wairarapa studio and kiln. In 1970 they moved to neighbouring Carterton rural land where Rhondda still lives.
Much of James Greig’s pottery is in public and private collections, including a substantial portion in Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand. They are also held in the UN Headquarters in New York, the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His work has been widely exhibited in Japan. James, like many other New Zealand potters, was influenced by notable Japanese potters, such as Kanjiro Kawai and Yu Fujiwara. I became aware of the respect Japan had for James Greig, and how his work put New Zealand on the Japanese map.
I was a member of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, and moved quickly to report for the Japanese and New Zealand governments and business leaders on the work and death of this man influential Japanese regarded as a distinguished potter. It was on one of my returns home to Pahiatua that then Masterton Mayor Bob Francis said that, as a local boy, I should help the economic development of the Wairarapa by fostering linkages to Japan. It was at that time that Mayor Francis negotiated successfully to attract forestry major Juken Nissho Ltd to the Wairarapa.
Potter Grieg book being written in Greytown
Rhondda Greig has also made arrangements with a Greytown researcher/writer, Dr Polly Cantlon to write a book on James Greig. Greytown photographer John Casey has been commissioned to do photography for the book.
The community and its leaders could build on the foundations the Greig family have established for the profile of Greytown and its neighbours. James Greig’s pottery is an asset on which linkages could be built, profiling the place where international-standard artworks have been created.