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  • Installation image

    Courtesy Dennis O'Connor Collection
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Dennis O'Connor Collection

The Jar Known as Pinchmetight

19 December 2004 - 19 December 2004

'Adam and Eve and Pinchmetight
Went down to the river to bathe
Adam and Eve were drowned
Who do you think was saved?'

In 1969 the poet Bob Orr gave me a tiny rimu tree to plant at a place I'd just bought in Putiki Bay, Waiheke Island. While gardening around the base of this tree recently - it towers over my house now - I uncovered most of these shards from the 1970s. Each has a story to tell. As I washed them clean I remembered the ninth century Heian Dynasty pots that I was shown by Koie Ryoji in Tokoname, Japan. He had boxes and boxes of them stacked to the ceiling all around the house and had been digging them up since childhood. Night after night he decoded the faintest markings on them for me. The Jar known as Pinchmetight was one of those masterpieces now in the Togei Kenkyu-Sho Museum and was often reproduced in the Histories. It had a lightening bolt split down one side and a chunk of something from a firing catastrophe on its shoulder.

I gave this pot the title, a tradition in the Orient. I found its name just last year in a collection of poems by James Brown called Lemon. When I informed him of this naming, he sent me his favourite container. It was another poem, by Wallace Stevens, called Anecdote of the Jar.

Dennis O'Connor
29 September 2004

The Jar Known as Pinchmetight is an installation of works from the collection of maker Denis O'Connor. These works are shards from pots that did not survive the rigours of the firing process. Placed in a museum case, these works that in one sense ‘did not work' - but ‘do work' as beautiful and informative objects - contest the idea of works being ‘of museum quality', an accolade bestowed on the most accomplished of works.

This installation of works from a maker's collection recognizes that makers are a special type of collector and that their collections often have characteristics which make them particularly interesting. Frequently makers' collections will include works exchanged and traded with other makers, works that relate in some sense to their own production and works made by themselves which either they could not bear to part with or which in some sense ‘did not work'.