I’ve known the skills of Kuranda master ceramicist Peter “Potter” Thompson for some time … but up until a couple of weeks ago had never met him. I did try and arrange a portrait session with Peter a couple of years back but at the time he politely demurred.
Peter has been building his rainforest studio practice for 50 years and is amongst Australia’s most accomplished practitioners of wood-fired pottery, his cutting edge work gracing major galleries far and wide.
His workshop ‘Five Treasures’ is where he creates and fires his Orient inspired creations in expansive high temperature kilns fired by locally collected timber, following Taoist principles. His passion for each and every piece is obvious.
Peter’s outwardly quiet demeanour belies a no nonsense approach to both his work and his life … and he portrays an impeccably wry sense of humour.
The harshness of his work environment has impacted his health … and Peter has survived three heart attacks over the last twenty years. In true Peter style the tattoo above his heart (and pacemaker) means ‘Do Not Resuscitate’. Chemical emissions from the kiln firings have also impacted his lung capacity.
A couple of weeks ago I was introduced to Peter by Ian Whittaker who has authored a book on his life and work. Peter showed me around his studio home, workshop and kilns as he earnestly talked about his magic pottery … and his upcoming hospital stay for yet another major operation.
Peter allowed me to make a series of portraits … and this one (below) I believe most accurately shows his complex character and environment as his life as a potter encircles him.
Thank You Peter … good luck with the latest operation.
Image © Brian Cassey