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Exhibition Four

Exhibition Four, Season Two: 16 February – 15 March 2024
Artist: Jack Tilson

Fire Gradient (Towards the Whau)

19th century bricks, rubble

A brick is a brick, is a brick!

Bricks, made from clay from the banks of the Whau, shells and all. Stones, sticks and fingerprints.

Formed by hand, one by one, by pressing wet clay into wooden boxes, a wire is run across the box to make them flat. The bricks, dried under the baking sun, are eventually fired in a chamber of bricks, a kiln, or brick clamp!

The fired bricks, emerging from the kiln, in the 19th century, began their first journey, towards the developing colonial city by barge. Traveling by water, down the Whau, past the lapping Waitematā, their journey culminates in transport by horse and carriage to a settlers’ plot. They become a chimney stack. The chimney stack, a vertical columnal channel, designed for the release of wood ash, microparticles and soot operates for one hundred years under the shadow of Maungawhau.

Many winters later, the stack is pushed over by a land-developer’s worker, a broken system. The chimney has come thudding down into the soft autumnal ground. Stuck in the mud!

Jack Tilson – “Is this still available?”
Anonymous User – “Yes, but you must take them all!

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About five at a time, the bricks are loaded into a truck and transported back to the Whau where they began their journey. Sorrow.

The bricks are assembled again into a chimney, yet for a pottery kiln. The bricks take on a familiar form, yet are now exposed to much higher temperatures and begin to melt, crack and break apart. Ash and salt form a close bond with the surface of the clay bricks. Play of light. Elation!

Entropy. Smoking rubble piles. Raw fingers!

Jack Tilson is an artist living and working in the Whau. He runs the Wood Fired Pottery School on Titirangi Road.