Pamella Annsouth leans in as if she’s about to make a confession.
“I’m actually terribly nervous,” she says, “I’m about to expose myself.”
The Waikanae artist is talking about her latest exhibition, a collaboration with two old friends, and what she’s about to expose is her heart.
Five love poems, penned in the 1970s to her late husband – renowned potter Mirek Smisek – will be featured alongside her ceramics and she’s worried about how they’ll be received.
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“I’ve never done this before, publicly harking back to the time I fell in love … but then I think everyone fell in love in the 70s.
“Hopefully the people who read them will remember how it felt.”
Smisek died in 2013 and Annsouth, still mourning, said working with the old poems had an unexpected, but very welcome, side-effect.
” I’ve fallen in love with him all over again.”
Titled The 70’s Dames the exhibition celebrates 50 years of friendship between Annsouth and fellow potters Anneke Borrenand Jenny Shearer.
“The 70s was an extremely passionate time,” Borren said, “we all found our passions and thought we would change the world.”
They didn’t quite manage that but they did became part of the pioneering New Zealand pottery scene, she said.
“The import restrictions were still very fierce so we were protected by being here and building up a New Zealand sense of clay without any other competition.”
The friendship formed against the backdrop of galleries and studios in a time when the art peaked and a seemingly endless desire for pottery gripped the county.
“People couldn’t buy enough of it,” Borren said. “You would almost sell it hot out of the kiln.”
Annsouth recalled art classes and exhibitions selling out before they opened, and although the popularity has waned she felt a renaissance was on the horizon.
“I’ve got two pages of people’s names who want me to teach a class … maybe I should.”
When you ask the artists what the decades have changed the most about themselves, both 70s dames laugh.
“Well, we’re still potters,” said Annsouth.
“And we’re working bloody hard at it,” said Borren.
*The 70’s Dames, Pataka Museum, Porirua, April 21 till June 4.