Based in Wellington Genre Visual Art

Sam Ludden

Crazy for clay, wild about water

Kia ora. As an artist I have two absolute passions...clay and rivers. I was bought up mucking about in creeks and rivers in the Wairarapa, NZ catching eels, and getting dirty. Playing neck deep in our beautiful rivers and rainforests formed my identity and how I see the world. In my teenage years I was lucky enough to discover the lifestyle of the studio potter, which seemed to match my idea of a life well spent.

One of my first experiences as a potter was to find and dig my own clay directly from the landscape. Physically finding, mixing and processing this stuff that didn’t come from a plastic bag or a shop, using it to create things people used and admired, was a profound experience that committed me to this life of ceramics.

Over the years, my work has always drawn on the natural world for inspiration. When I am not in the pottery I still take every opportunity to get out onto our rivers kayaking, or the beach surfing and I use this time to observe the wondrous and often dark character of Aotearoa’s wild places. I like to use my art to remind people of what a unique place we live in and hopefully, to communicate what we, as a nation, stand to lose.

The creation of Dirty Fingers Pottery(DFP)

I have been a potter for more than 20 years and I have worked hard to translate my ceramics into a full-time business, so I can follow my passion, feed my young family and pay the bills. The pottery has developed over the years from a cold dark shed into a comfortable, solar powered place to hang out without fear of hypothermia! Now the workshop is insulated and well lit, I host children and adults alike for workshops in clay and art. It is a place where I’ve managed to strike a balance between making sculpture and pots that people love, producing work that I am proud of and (to date) making a sustainable living. Today, the pottery has developed into the place I dreamed of having when I started on this path all those years ago.

I’m on a mission to push my boundaries and use art as a form of activism

Now I reflect on what I’ve built and what I make, I feel like my work is at risk of becoming stagnant. I am not satisfied with reproducing what I know people will buy. It is too easy to settle on the successes of the past and press repeat.

I feel like I am perfectly positioned to take a leap of faith and push my art beyond the safety of what I know. I have something to say with my work and I want to say it loud and clear without inhibition or distraction. I think art is a powerful medium that can effect change and inspire action, which is why my vision for Project WAI and this crowdfunding project has come about.

‘Project WAI’ is an idea that has evolved over the last couple of years, parallel to the development of my Pottery. It’s born from the thought that I can contribute more than just beautiful things, I can create art that means something.

However, of course, before Project WAI can start, I have to be sure I can still put food on the table and secure my families income for at least four months while the core of the exhibition is being created. Project WAI needs the help of you and our community for it to succeed and flourish.

Please help me to use art for conservation.

Sam Ludden's Projects