My dual careers as ceramicist and chef began in 1986 when, with hardly a backwards glance, I left my home in rural northern New Zealand to explore the world of higher education.
At only 17 years of age, I packed my suitcase and moved from Ruawai near the top of the North Island, to Dunedin in the far south of the South Island. I was accepted into Otago School of Fine Arts….wow!
I was scared, hungry and cold.
However I found my first love. CLAY! “At last I’d found something I was good at!”
To this day, I can sit at a potters’ wheel and throw for hours, concentration completely absorbed in the present – what a gift. Which is just as well, as years later I worked as a production thrower in Australia. Long, hard, hot, physical days throwing pot after bowl after plate, not forgetting casserole lids! I became a walking muscle, even my fingers became muscular. But I was in my happy place 🙂
However being a realist, I had to put myself through Art School and fund my travels. Hence my second career emerged out of necessity. I started off as a kitchen hand in New Zealand and worked up to a French cuisine chef in London, Covent Garden. There’s a marriage between food and the vessel it’s presented on. Your personal wheel thrown cereal bowl – just the right colour, just the right shape, just the right size. Or your hands wrapped around your morning coffee mug – feels, looks, smells, tastes, perfect!
Then came the insurmountable competition from wave after wave of mass produced imports from abroad. Once again, being a realist and looking down the barrel of marriage, children and mortgages, I retrained as a graphic designer, and in doing so, gained an abundance of valuable skills.
But it wasn’t my first love 🙁
So when our children were babies, my sister Nikki and I combined our skills of graphic design and clay technology. Together we combined modern technology with a very old medium – decals. Using this combination we designed jewellery which was new to the market and well received. Truth be told, we Forrest Gumped our way through, reacting rather than planning. However we made a name for ourselves; Madeleine George! Our work found favour in a number of outlets, including the all important tourist shops at Auckland International Airport.
In 2017 the extension of the range to include wheel thrown pottery, coincided with my sister Nikki and me moving into different ventures. Madeleine George was re-branded as Frankie Harker.
Frankie Harker’s new ranges of jewellery and wheel thrown pottery have settled themselves into the beautiful beach side suburb of Narrow Neck, North Shore, Auckland.
I hope you will enjoy using and wearing them as much as I enjoy making them.