Anthony Brink, respected potter and all round nice guy. Read on for his story…
Hi there Anthony Brink, where you from??
I was born in South Africa. My family moved to Australia in 1969 when I was a teenager. We lived in Sydney. By the mid 1970’s I was working in the ceramic arts industry. I had spent some time in Adelaide and later Hobart as a ‘young thing’ and then fetched up in and around Brisbane for many years. In 2002 I came back south, and am now based in the Blue Mountains.
You work independently as a studio-based potter and also deliver workshops and teach at the Pine Street Creative Arts Centre in Sydney…tell us about that!
I enjoy teaching very much. When students walk through the door for the first time I often recognise that light of inspiration, of yearning for knowledge and for meaningful ways of working and thinking and acting. It is something that recurs in every age. For me it is a privilege to work with people in a communicative interactive learning environment. I feel like I continue to be the learner. But I also think that I have – I should by now- something valuable to offer. Working in my own right in my studio is essential for me. I am as compelled to work and to discover the creative possibilities in clay and glaze and fire today as I was way back when I started out. This also is what refreshes me as a teacher.
What do you wish you knew about being a business owner before you got started?
In my working life my focus has been very strongly on the work itself – the products of my design and making- and the ideas and practices around that. My inspiration has been an aesthetic sense and aspiration, finding expression in a visual language. I wish this had been matched by an equally compelling business sense. There are very important skills to be learned and gained in aspects of business such as marketing and promotion. I wish I was better at those kinds of things.
Why do you think ceramics has made such a big comeback in the last few years?
There are historical precedents I think, for resurgences of interest in ceramic arts over time. And in terms of ceramic art, what long times they are. In recent years the resurgence of interest is often attributed to a desire by people to directly rediscover the product and experience of work in the maker’s hand. It is easy to understand this as a response to the digital revolution so potently accessible and remote all at once. Clay is both metaphorically and physically a grounding experience. Little wonder that people seek a balance and creative expression in so compelling, so up close
a material practice. As the tide of excitement gives way to inspiration, the forms of ceramic art are strengthened and sustained. It’s good.
What else have you been up to?
It feels like work, work and work. But this is good. I feel like a juggler sometimes. However, recently I have relinquished some aspects of my work in the city to concentrate more on the studio at Blackheath. I am also renovating a section of my house to serve as a retail space and showroom, adjacent to the studio. Days are busy.
How would you describe your style?
I am not sure I know how to describe my style. I have a strong preoccupation with form, and its integration to surface often pared back to a point of abstraction.
Why do you think it’s important to provide creative outlets and opportunities for people, especially in regional areas?
There is a wealth of creative and artistic potential generated in regional areas. With recognition of the economic, social and cultural benefits of visual arts enterprise, communities and individuals are strengthened. Education and training opportunities are crucial. Don’t get me started.
What have you got coming up?
I’ve always had a ‘catch-cry’ that my best work is the next work that I do. I have an opportunity to spend much more time working in my own studio right now. I have some ideas – or visualisations really- for a range of larger, quite abstract forms. They remain functional, but also are about landscape. I’m trying to figure out some ways of ‘getting them out there’.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a potter?
I don’t know. I’ve forgotten.
Where can we see more of your stuff?
I try to keep my website updated with recent work and information about current projects. Its being redesigned at the moment, but have a look at anthonybrink.com
Lastly, Beatles or the Stones?
I guess you’re asking the question because you’ve looked at my birth date. The Beatles and the Stones were at their height when I was in my early teens. At that time there was a perception that the Beatles were ‘good boys’, the Stones were ‘bad boys’. I embraced both, as good bad boys do, and carry a soft spot in my heart for both.