"I subscribe to the well rounded aesthetic ideal, I guess. All the things I do relate, they are all visual. They all concern the drama of reactions to shape and colour and arrangement." John Parker works as a potter, set and costume designer and film critic. He draws no distinction between his interests. "The same themes flow through your work and the same processes of stylisation, fine-tuning and attention to detail apply."

John Parker began his career in pottery aged 19.  He learnt his skills through evening classes with Margaret Milne, then built his first kiln with Grant Hudson and became a member of 12 POTTERS, the first pottery co-op. He studied at Auckland University, joined the World Crafts Council in 1969 and travelled to England to study at the Royal College of Art in London.  The College offered a hands on exposure to pottery based more on the European or Bauhaus philosophy of "form follows function", the antithesis of the New Zealand preoccupation with the truth to materials ethos of Leach, Hamada and Anglo-Orientalism.  His tutor at the Royal College was Hans Coper.

 West Auckland Still Life for Keith & Ernie, 2009

John gained a Master of Fine Arts.  He taught in the United Kingdom for a year before returning to New Zealand to take up the post as Director of the Auckland Studio Potters Centre.  John has been involved as a juror on major ceramic exhibitions throughout New Zealand.  Through this work, and his international connections, John has helped form the direction ceramics have taken within the country.



John's work has been exhibited around the world and is held in many collections.  He now exhibits in close to three solo exhibitions within New Zealand annually, and in many local and international group shows.   View full list

He has received numerous commissions and won a number of awards for his ceramics, including: the Fletcher Brownbuilt Pottery Merit Award (1979, 1980 and 1985), Merit Award - Royal Easter Show Pottery Awards and Merit Award - Hume Gas Award (1995); Birkenhead Licensing Trust Award and the Royal Easter Show Western Potters Award (1998), Winner of Portage Awards John Green Waitakere Artist Award (2007 and 2009).

At the same time as John was developing his interest in ceramics, John also became interested in theatre design, undertaking design briefs for theatre, opera and musicals.  Credits are numerous.  Designs range from Hooters, Trumpets and Raspberries at Theatre Corporate, Auckland (1985) to Chess for Stetson Productions, Melbourne (1997) to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Downstage Theatre Wellington (2000) to Cabaret Court Theatre Christchurch (2010) to Cavaleria Rusticana / I Pagliacci for NZOPERA  (2011) to Glass Menagerie, Auckland Theatre Company (2013).

View full CV here


"The interviews on which this article is based took place over November and December 2001. They were then shaped and rewritten to make us all sound better than we were on the day."

Jim Barr and Mary Barr interview John Parker about his ceramic life.
"A Designer Is first and foremost there as a problem solver to fundamentally serve the text". This article first appeared in The GUIDE, the magazine of the New Zealand Association of Theatre, design and Technology. Schools Lighting Design Awards, 1995.


Ceramic artist John Parker talks about the rules he sets himself in order to create his work. Filmed in his Auckland studio
John Parker features on the TVNZ 7 broadcast of The Artists, produced in partnership with the Arts Foundation.


'The Importance of being Earnest', Auckland Theatre Company production. Stage-set and costumes by John Parker, photos by Tony Rabbit
Stage set for New Zealand Opera's production of Gernod's 'Faust'
Floating Lattice Bowl
122 x 175 x 175mm
Born Auckland, New Zealand
Graduated, Auckland University
Began night-school pottery with Margaret Milne
Stoneware kiln built with Grant Hudson
Member World Crafts Council
Graduated, Auckland Teachers College (Teachers College Diploma with Distinction); Member 12 Potters Co-operative
Received small electric kiln from Mavis Robinson
Study, Royal College of Art, London
Graduated, Master in Fine Arts, Royal College of Art
Shared Workshop with Ian Godfrey, Islington, London, UK; Tutor, Hastings College of Further Education, UK
Director of Auckland Studio Potters Centre
Head of Design, Theatre Corporate, Auckland
Resident Designer, Mercury Theatre, Auckland
First visit to China with the NZ Camelia Society
Co-selector Winstones Craft Biennale
Curator, New Zealand, Country of Focus Exhibition, Faenza, Italy (1991)
Co-Curator for 1990 touring show Mau Mahara :150 Years Of New Zealand Craft; Major Creative Development Q EII Grant to research glaze technology and UV light
Visit to China with Tom Newnham and Jan McLeod researching and filming Centenial documentary on Kathleen Hall for China Central Television
Treasurer NZ China Friendship Society (Auckland Branch)
Tutor,Theatre Performance Technology, School of Architecture and Design, Unitec, Auckland
Waitakere City Millenium Medal for services to the Community; Life Member of Auckland Studio Potters
Set Designer of the Year for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Auckland Theatre Company
Major retrospective exhibition, John Parker Ceramics, City Gallery, Wellington; Set Designer of the Year, The Rocky Horror Show, Auckland Theatre Company
Lead Artist for the Glen Eden Library Project, Waitakere City Council; Creative NZ Arts Board Craft/Object Art Committee
Creative NZ Craft/Object Art Fellowship Committee; Lead Artist, new Flat Bush Town Centre, Warren and Mahoney Architects; Set Designer,Year for Big River, Downstage Theatre, Wellington
Residency - FLICAM (FuLe International Ceramic Art Museums Fuping Pottery Art Village), Shaanxi, China, creating work for Australasian Museum Complex
Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award