30 Jan 2022

Peter Lange - Brick by Brick

From Standing Room Only, 2:48 pm on 30 January 2022

Auckland ceramist Peter Lange is known for large-scale sculptures but he's now making artworks using individual bricks as canvasses.

"Bricks are the most basic unit of clay that there is and under-celebrated in some ways. So I decided to celebrate bricks for a year or two."

NZ sculptor Peter Lange

NZ sculptor Peter Lange Photo: Supplied

Painting is a new adventure for Lange.

"I've never painted anything in my life, in an artistic sense. 'I'm not very good at it, but I'm okay. I'm good enough."

He buys individual bricks for $1.50 a pop from all over the world, then glazes, fires and paints them.

"Having a single brick in my hand is like heaven to me at the moment. I'm really enjoying that."

Some black bricks Lange bought from China sagged when they were heated, so he's now using these to make more sculptural pieces.

"I've been cutting them up into smaller pieces and deliberately sagging them onto other bricks and firing them.

"It's kind of exciting. It's less predictable so makes it a bit more adventurous."

Peter Lange's painted bricks:

Lange has also been throwing some fist-sized rocks dug out of his home garden going into the kiln.

'They come out looking like peoples brains. The white glaze crawls in the most alarming manner… Between that and the melting bricks, there's a certain amount of risk-taking going on.

Lange likens his artistic life to "canoeing down the Whanganui River and going down every side stream you come across just to see what's up there".

For a ceramicist, happy accidents often have captivating results, he says.

"Sometimes you come out with your tail between your legs but you always find some little exciting thing to learn. I experiment a lot. Sometimes it hasn't been worth the trouble but I least I learnt not to do that again."

A collection of Lange's painted bricks are now on display at what he says will be his last exhibition - Brick.

The show runs until 26 February at the new Mt Eden gallery Oddly.

Lange says he chose Oddly because it's near his home and also only 50 metres from the ceramics shop he ran on Dominion Road for many years - "an iconic meeting place for artists and troublemakers and protestors and political people".