Brickell Brac Pottery Lottery Diary
aka Bracanaki 28 - 31 May 2023
Saturday 27 May
One more sleep til Bracanaki.
Paul is at home in New Plymouth where a crew of Brickell Bitches will descend on his studio to make a mess tomorrow. He’s cleared some space in the studio, wondering how 10 of us will fit. He’s mowed the lawns which will help it to feel spacious in general.
We are making the second Brickell Brac collection with Macs Buff Stoneware & some white toilet glaze to be shown and sold at Kingsroy on June 24th, less than four weeks away.
For this Brickell Brac event, we have: Janeen, Sophia, Turumeke, Kalou, Laurie, Karl, Paul, Callum, Riccardo, and Steve. This time around has the most amount of people who have never done pottery.
What are we in for? This could be the last Brickell Brac adventure ever but probably isn’t.
It’s all happening babes.
Sunday 28 May
No rules, no expectations.
A reminder of the original premise of Brickell Brac:
“True Brickell Brac is made in situ. It is the mess and memory of creation and the dust of its creators. The Brickell Brac is inherently in us and we shed it when we work together.”
Laurie, behind the wheel of Lloyd: “The outcome is irrelevant, but you can’t set out to make a mess.”
“You can’t set out to be consciously random,” says Steve from the back of the van at 8.44am somewhere near Te Awamutu.
Premium conditions, Lloyd is smooth, going 100km/h along the autumn countryside roads.
“There’s some great rocks around here.”
Driving through the broken-in, man made landscape, “this great mess we call civilization”.
It’s all Brickell Brac.
It turns out there’s a Ronnie’s in Otorohanga where there’s a peace lily in the restroom and the breakfast muffins are delicious in the morning sun.
The universe smiles.
Past some great hills along the ocean and a German sausage place, and we’re nearly there, cockatooing with excitement.
Arrive at Paul’s at 1pm.
Callum, Riccardo and Janeen are already there, drinking mugs of tea around a large wooden table in Paul & Luella’s living room, walls covered in art, everywhere you look is art. Laurie passes around the little box of Brickell Brac Pottery Lottery notes that may or may not make sense to anyone. We each take one, read it, keep it secret, and go down to the studio to begin.
Contrails disperse in the sky as the day ambles on. Turumeke and Sophia arrive, are put to work.
What will remain for people to find in 1000 years? What will they think, these people of the future, of our silly pots?
Karl arrives finally and merges a few of the pots and everyone takes off to Jeremy and Sashil’s.
Turumeke plays tunes on her well-eaten crayfish legs.
It’s somewhere halfway through an excellent evening of generosity, openness, and sharing of beautiful dumplings, paella, and dahl made by Sashil.
Laurie: “I’m playing the crayfish too!”
Pleasantly drunk and socially lubricated, we listen to Jeremy’s stories. He shows us his collection of thousands of rare rhododendron seeds collected in the Himalayas and talks of how he's really a farmboy but he loves this too. By “this'' he means having his house descended upon by a large group of creatives.
Martino Gamper rings up from a plane somewhere in the world and Karl shows him that the staircase he’s made is still here.
The house is full of art and warmth, every space is lived in.
Jeremy: “I like to believe you can have your cake and eat it too.”
Monday 29 May
Paul was right about the weather. It has now packed itself in (but returns later, don’t worry).
Karl makes ginger eggs in Jeremy & Sashil’s kitchen. Once you’ve had ginger eggs, you will never go back to normal eggs again.
To make Ginger Eggs (good for hangover):
Fry ginger a bit first, then crack the egg on top. Serve on a buttered piece of brown toast. Salt & pepper. Don’t overdo it with the ginger.
Riccardo has gone surfing and comes back for the tail end of a sleep paralysis conversation and it’s time to go.
Today we are making toilet brush holders (TBH). Who doesn’t want a nice ceramic toilet brush holder?
Yesterday’s work is cleared out and put in Paul’s half-built shed down the back near the wood kiln. Later Karl sneaks down and mashes everything together. “There was too many small things, I thought”.
Now there are five big things. They may break in the firing and become small things again.
In the studio, the Shit Chalice collapses when taken for a ride on a much too fast wheel.
The question of whether you put bleach in the bottom of your toilet brush holder is thrown around the space.
“Have you ever been in a situation where there’s water in the TBH and it's all slimy and with bits and soggy toilet paper stuck to it and you have to try and get the brush to the toilet bowl without getting the gooey water on the floor.”
“No one ever talks about this.”
“It’s a real human problem.”
“There should be more awareness around this.”
“Yes, it should be normalised, really.”
“Have you ever seen a toilet brush holder in a Star Wars movie for example?
Many shapes of possible TBHs appear on Paul’s old hospital bed table.
This one is a Colosseum.
This one is the Family Toilet Brush Tree. “I always had my brush in that one.”
Steve has made something that is not useful as a toilet brush holder, yet he has made it and wants to know: “If I leave it like that…”
Laurie: Someone will fuck with it, yes.”
Amazing pumpkin soup, roast beef and freshly baked bread for lunch. Steve neglects to eat his designated bowl of spinach.
After lunch the glazing of the Wellington-made Karl’s footpath/selected Dowse pots begins. Shortly after, Paul comes down to announce that Luella has just tested positive for covid.
A fatigued lull of glazing follows. The rainbow helps.
4.36pm and now great brickell track beats are flowing from the experimental brickell band noise machine aka the Omnichord - a radical machine for interrupting convention. Large pots are being thrown for tomorrow and it’s beer o’clock.
Karl: “That’s what I call a big pot!”
The smell of steaming clay and gas and the sound of increasingly chaotic gut-tingling alternating lyrics from the brickell band. Janeen discovers brickells in her shoes and has made a great big pot, which Laurie fires a ball of clay right through with his slingshot. Sophia glazes slowly and methodically.
Rick shot the bear!
Clay & spirituality, deeply exfoliating.
Callum: “What a ride…”
The wind carries the brickell dust with it and spreads it all over the great civilization in which sushi is served back at Jeremy & Sashil’s where the ocean roars next door and a half moon watches intently through the clouds.
Tuesday 30 May
Last full day of making. Awake with the sound of the ocean, holding out for a ginger egg.
We went down, we did the things. Some include Bad Pottery, Hunger, A Trumpet, and Art. No knick knacks.
1.10pm Karl’s word to sum up the day so far: “Sausage”.
Plug yourself in babes. Something always happens.
In this fairground/carnival/funhouse where Steve flexes his newly acquired pottery skills, anything can happen and is.
3.09pm and we are nearly out of clay. Does Paul have more clay? Yes he does.
Sieve some brickells. Throw some pots!
Solve the problems of the world in the big discussion.
Don’t expect to have the answers by the end of play.
Turumeke: “I’m just tryin’ to make turds, alright?”
It’s time for an Onggi-off. What size is the Onggi sausage? It’s open for interpretation.
Paul turns on the pug mill.
Riccardo prepares the pork roast with apples.
Steve wants to know if there’s any more clay that doesn’t “have rocks n’ shit in it”. No Steve, there’s brickells in everything.
Janeen has a cup of tea with oak milk in a Stella Artois bottle.
Sophia’s word of the day: “Steaming.”
Important announcement: Bracanaki undergoes rebranding in keeping with respect for te maunga and not cutting its name in half to use for our silly purposes.
It is now: Brickell Brac Pottery Lottery.
Am I a banana?
The Onggi pot is simultaneously growing and cracking, hands working over clay, a flame to try and tame its belly into staying standing. The unhinged nature of it all, “it’s quite Brickell Brac”.
We go from extreme seriousness to extremely serious silliness. Somehow the equation works.
“Come add something to the Onggi pot!”
A sweet Nickell Brac rendition remix brings us somewhere nearer to Riccardo’s roast pork. The Onggi pot has made it to the end of the day spectacularly, now adorned by all our hands, with all our love & best wishes.
A day of relaxed, comfortable play. We have arrived at this stage of play that many of us forgot or even lost in our relatively diseased stages of conditioned convention.
This time I’m mistaken.
It has all gelled today. We’ve come a long way.
Turumeke: “Chicken in white.”
Laurie: “Where has Sophia gone? Oh! She’s on the other side of the ikebana!”
Wednesday 31 May
What can possibly be left?
A visit to Kingsroy in the morning. The acoustics are premium for blasting people with the Omnichord noise machine at the opening on the 24th of June. A few doors up, the Len Lye Centre is trying to be invisible in reflective blues.
Onwards to Paul’s to empty the electric kiln. A lot of toilet-white pots are arranged on the fence with a view of the mountain. The green has burned off, some pinks and blues remain. Potential!
Laurie: “Look, this one is functional. You can totally put something inside.”
Turumeke: “your dreams.”
The Onggi pot has exhaled and imploded overnight.
Callum shrugs. “That’s Brickell Brac.”
The workshop is cleared to make space for the new Brickell Brac creations to dry in comfort. The sun is out for the brickell friends as they roll into the final hour or so of (formerly known as) Bracanaki.
Sausages, onions and fresh bread on the table outside for lunch.
We have eaten like kings on this trip. The brickell family has grown.
Crouched by the blue steps, Charlie resurrects and morphs the Onggi pot into a new shape because don’t you know, it’s never over.
We hit the road after lunch, wave goodbye to Paul, Luella, Charlie and Karl as well, who will probably make 100 more new pots after we’ve gone.
Some hours later we drop Steve off at his house. He will struggle to explain this to his family.
“So, what happened?” they will ask.
Rejuvenated, exhausted, and covered in brickell dust, Steve will say: “We Brickell Brac’ed.”
All over New Zealand, potters are beginning to make their own Brickell Brac pots, joining the Brickell Brac movement. The movement is like a wave, it doesn’t wait around.
Either you catch it or you don’t.