There’s an alchemy to potting. The way clay and glaze and heat and time come together to form something unique. Chatting to potter Holly Morgan suggests a beautiful parallel, in the manner her practice and business have fallen into place.
Living in Whangamatā, surfing daily and working as a cleaner, having just returned from years travelling and living overseas, Holly signed up for a pottery class. She joked with master potter Andrew Killick that doing this ‘all day everyday’ would be a dream come true. Then, in walked his apprentice, and resigned. Holly took up that role, fell “head over heels in love with clay” and spent the next year assisting Killick and learning the art, craft and trade. In 2018 she and her husband Josh established Morgan Made, and in 2019 after stumbling by luck on the perfect workspace here, they moved their lives and the business to Napier.
Holly works from the studio-gallery on Napier’s Market Street, with her wheel in the window. “This way, people can see me making pottery right here in the CBD,” Holly says. “And they come in and chat, see what I’m doing; everyone has a pottery story to share.”
Her aesthetic is clean and restrained, featuring calming, neutral glazes with free-hand flourishes. A current focus on bases and shades for lighting is set to bring electrician Josh in as a collaborator.
In another stroke of serendipity, Holly was halfway through a four-week residency at Coromandel’s Driving Creek Railway and Potteries when the August lockdown was announced. “We were firing the wood kiln, it was just reaching 1300 degrees,” Holly says. “There was no way I was packing up and heading home – all my work was in there!” So her stay lasted closer to six weeks. She and two others had the run of the place, with its surrounding bush, the totally immersive working environment, and all that quiet. Holly credits her time at Driving Creek for pushing her work and her approach in a new direction.
Fateful timing aside, there’s real toil that goes into this life. In addition to making and selling her work, Holly also teaches. She offers private lessons (around 2 hours) for up to four people at a time, up to four times a week. The long-term plan is for Josh to work in the business full-time too. Pop in and see Holly next time you’re in the Napier CBD – she’s got fascinating stories, remarkable work and the magic of clay to share.
Photo: Florence Charvin