Chester Nealie Book

Etched in Fire

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We are close to full funding for this project after numerous fundraising efforts that included an auction courtesy of Art + Object. Your support will help us get across the finishing line by covering the last of the writing and editing costs. Any additional funds raised will be put towards a residency opportunity with Chester Nealie.

Etched in Fire will be an important monograph on the life and work of Australian based New Zealand potter Chester Nealie, an international authority on the Japanese style anagama (woodfiring). Chester Nealie is a charismatic figure whose knowledge is generously shared wherever he travels.

Etched in Fire will document an important part of our ceramic history. A valuable resource for artists, collectors and historians alike.

The book will bring together a lifetime of work in photographs and important essays by key artists, curators and writers including Denis O'Connor, Peter Lange, Owen Rye, Grace Cochrane, Lucy Hammonds, Justine Olsen and Dr Damian Skinner who is also editor. The project is delighted to be partnered with the experience and expertise that is Ron Sang Publishing.

Special thanks for your support from the Chester Nealie fundraising committee:

Stuart Newby, Derek Firth, Wally Hirsch, Trien Steverlynck, Ron Sang, John Nealie, Christine Hedlund, Eloise Kitson.


Chester Nealie
New Zealand born Chester Nealie (1942) began making ceramics in 1964 after instruction in New Zealand from Shoji Hamada, Takeichi Kawai and Michael Cardew. He has lectured, built kilns and conducted many firings in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, USA, Korea and Norway. His wood-fired pots show the effects of prolonged firing at high temperatures on raw clay surfaces, using an anagama kiln. Although the pots have a basic classical form, their individuality is present in the freedom and joy in hand making combined with the magical spontaneity of flame. Chester is a New Zealand potter now living and working in Australia.

Chester's pots are usually wheel thrown then hand manipulated to give informality, each one formed through playful practice. Careful consideration and expertise leads to each pots placement in the kiln, which is designed to achieve a variety of surface effects by handling, placing and location to the flames and ash during firing. The raw untreated pots, or with glaze or other clay surfaces interact with the intense heat during several days of firing. The firing process requires a round the clock vigil of fire stoking with wood which comes from Chester's property. In recent times some of the clay he uses comes from his own creek bed. Chester's surrounding landscape informs and inspires his making.

Chester usually stacks his pieces in the kiln wedging scallop shells between them. A process he developed when living near the Kaipara Harbour on a property laden with shell remains. This has the effect of not only protecting each piece from another, but leaves behind intriguing fossil like imprints and fabulous colour variations and streaks where the shell has interacted with the glaze.

Chester has held numerous one person exhibitions in New Zealand and Australia, as well as having participated in many group exhibitions also in Japan, Korea, China, USA, Canada, UK, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Spain & Germany. He is internationally recognised as a leading figure in woodfired ceramics.

His work is in private collections in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, USA, Canada, Germany, Denmark, England, Scotland and Norway and in several public collection including Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington and Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland.


  • Well fuelled


    Firstly thanks have to go to all the donors who have made it possible to raise the final funds for this monograph on Chester Nealie. Thank-you thank-you thank-you.

    For those you still want to get involved with the project any additional funds raised will go towards a residency opportunity for a New Zealand potter with Chester Nealie at his studio in Gulgong, Australia.

    Any additional support will be greatly appreciated!

    Well fuelled