close up of rebecca neal
the logo of rebecca neal ceramics

Fiji born and UK educated, Rebecca grew up immersed in different cultures as her family followed her merchant navy father around the world. Her love of travel brought her and her partner to New Zealand in 1994. Kapiti has been home since 2009.

An introduction to pottery in her school's concrete air raid shelter at the age of 12 had Rebecca hooked. Whenever she could she would take the train from Norwich to London and visit the galleries exhibiting the works of Lucie Rie and Hans Coper amongst others. Rebecca graduated with a degree in Combined Arts at Leicester University. Her main subject was Ancient History, but it was the artefacts that really inspired her to continue to pot whenever she could. A visit to the UK always includes a trip to London's British Museum.

After a year of world travel, Rebecca volunteered in museums and on archaeological digs, and worked for Southampton University promoting multiculturalism in schools. After setting up an interior decorating and stencil design business in Brighton, then Reading, she and her partner Jon moved to New Zealand, where she continued working in a similar field before their son was born.

Always attending clay workshops or classes whenever she could, Rebecca invested in her own kiln about 12 years ago. It happened to come with the contents of an entire workshop, and so her serious journey with clay began.

She completed the first year of the Diploma of Ceramics from Otago, then decided the studio was calling full time.

Rebecca now works and teaches small groups from her studio/barn at home, in Otaihanga on the Kapiti Coast, an hour north of New Zealand's Capital, Wellington.

Rebecca's Techniques

Rebecca's work is mainly hand built, and she sees each form as a 3D canvas to which she builds layers of colour and texture. She starts by making slips (liquid clay) to which she will add  powdered coloured stains which will be applied by brush. Once firmed, the piece will then be carved using the sgraffito technique, adding texture and revealing layers of colour beneath.

Text is used on some pieces. After the first firing, more detailed colour is added using  using underglazes and oxides, and then glazed and re fired. The colours are very different prior to their pre firing state so opening the kiln is accompanied by a sense of anticipation. If she is not happy with the result, it is sanded back, re coloured and fired again. Sometimes she will challenge herself with a limited palette to focus on the form.

I love the colour of the tropics, but can equally be inspired by New Zealand’s flora and fauna, a piece of fabric or a phrase heard whilst listening to podcasts in my studio.

It makes me happy when people say my pieces make them smile or evoke an emotion, and they like to hold them to feel the texture when they take them home.

Artist Bio

A Level Art and Pottery in the UK
First year of the Diploma of Ceramic Arts

Awards and Exhibitions

I have exhibited overseas in the UK, and throughout the Wellington Region and New Zealand
Kapiti Arts Trail participant
Merit award winner at the NZ Potters National Tableware Exhibition June 201 7 ( held at Pataka)
Finalist at The Portage Ceramic Awards 2018