Alana is one of those amazing people who has a lot of energy and isn’t afraid to share it. Yes, she is moving to London, with hubby and three children in three weeks, but still finds the time to welcome me (and three little kiddies) into her home to tell me about her collections. Such a loss for NZ losing this wonderful family, but hopefully not for too long!
Her home is a feast for the eyes. I walk around saying “I love that” “I love that” “I love that”…….. They have such cool stuff!!!!!!! Alana loves pottery. When she first meet Ed (her hubby), they went away for a weekend up the Kapiti Coast. Whilst on a leisurely walk they stumbled upon the potter Mirek Smíšek who lives in Waikanae beach. She became a fan of this talented artist who has a strength in salt glaze from studying the skill in Japan.
Mirek Smíšek was born in Bohemia in 1925. Smíšek left Communist Czechoslovakia in 1948 in search of freedom and determined to live a creative life, after spending much of War Two in Nazi prisons and labour camps. He began his working life as a potter in Canberra and Sydney in 1948, then assisted English potter Ernie Shufflebottom at Crown Lynn in Auckland in 1951. He became New Zealand’s first independent studio potter in 1954, establishing a studio in Nelson, and galvanizing the beginnings of the pottery movement there. During his sixteen years in Nelson, Smíšek also travelled widely, and worked in Japan. In 1968 he moved to the Kapiti Coast, and has built three studios here over the past 40 years. He is inspired by ancient sources including Celtic and medieval Europe, the pre-Japanese Jomon civilization and the 20th century Mingei folk-craft movement.
Smíšek’s work is represented in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, England, Fiji, Germany, Japan, Korea, the U.S.A and New Zealand. He was awarded a Diploma for Distinguished Work by the World Crafts Council at their 1974 International Exhibition in Toronto and an OBE for his services to New Zealand pottery in 1990.
Alana also commented that he is a just a lovely man as well, a real sweet talker. She tries to go back and buy new pieces when she can. One piece of Alana’s is a Hobbit beer mug from Lord of the Rings. Smíšek was comissioned to create over 700 pieces for LOTR’s. He based his ideas for LOTR’s on Nordic/ Viking ideas.
Smíšek’s wife is also a potter and Alana bought the large platter from her. She creates cherubs and womanly things. Other pieces are from a variety of places. The naked woman (which her girls find so embarrassing) is from the Nelson markets and others have been gifts. I’m loving the funky 50’s vibe pottery- some that have been op shop finds. As I sip my tea from a huge pottery mug all I want to do is run out and buy some pottery- lovely to have something with texture in my hands after too many cheap mugs made in China that seem to be everywhere now.