Rebecca Neal

Becca (Rebecca) Neal - Potter, Ceramic Artist

Interview with Toi Kapiti/Kapiti Now

Rebecca is a world class Potter and Ceramic Artist who lives in the Kapiti Coast.  Like many of our artists she has an interesting life story which started some where far, far away - we hope you enjoy this interview.

Rebecca was born in Suva, Fiji to her mum 'Jane (Ruby Lily)' who worked for the Bank of England and her dad 'John' a Master Mariner, navigator, and Sea Captain.  She has two siblings Andrew and Sarah who are older than Becca.

Primary School Education

Primary School 1. Staines Preparatory School until I was 7yrs. 2. All Hallows Junior Boarding School

"Staines Prep. Was ok. Nothing too memorable, tho I always wanted a play doh machine someone brought to school."

"All Hallows, Small, religious, nuns…in middle of nowhere in countryside. Single sex." "Opening up a can of worms there!"

Art at school 
"I still remember visiting a pottery, doing layered wax crayon drawings, using air dry clay. We had to do a craft every Saturday morning.  (ie bring a project from home for a term.  I made stuffed felt animals, a rug, air dry animals, sewing projects).  We had to learn to do italic writing.   I wrote a poem every week."

Secondary School - All Hallows Boarding School

"Not a great experience, best part was school holidays when we got to fly home wherever that was.  (Spain, Fiji)"
"Another can of worms..! I remember jumping out of window, and biking to pub in dark a few miles away"

Art - "Tiny pottery shed in old concrete air raid shelter.   My refuge!  Had key and could go whenever I wanted.   Did art too but art teacher didn’t like me much."

Tertiary Education - Leicester University

"It was wild, fun most of the time. Cold and damp.  Especially in the student houses."

"I was studying combined Arts, History, ancient History, Philospohy, Politics. Initially main subject was History but changed to Ancient History.  School pushed me to getting academic tertiary qualification, not to go to art school."

"Mum and Pottery teacher wanted me to go to art school but I didn’t think I was good enough."

"Ancient History tutor persuaded me to major in his subject by telling me we would go to Italy.  It was amazing, Naples, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Rome. No regrets."

"The artifacts and their history were more appealing than the academic side of things! The forms and designs have a bearing on much of the work I do today."

"My personal tutor was a big influence.  I still see him on TV occasionally presenting programmes about Italy."

Working Life

"After University I travelled the world and working in hospitality and retailing.   Then returned and was unemployed so did voluntary work in a museum and on a archaeological dig."

" Then worked in local university taking archaeological projects into schools with multi cultural emphasis.   Then learn't to do stencil designs and combined with interior decorating practice. I did everything from decorating to making soft furnishings.  Painted furniture for a local store. Always needed to work with my hands.  Continued to attend eveing pottery classes."

"Moved to NZ, did some freelance work, temped in offices, managed a picture framers shop, worked for a homewares store as a a rep/colour and curtain consultant."

"This work was always around colour and design but wasn’t until my son was older and I purchased my own pottery equipment I was able to get back into pottery."

Business Practice today

"Potter, ceramic artist.  Self employed.

My biggest challenges are always money and time management. However,  I love what I do.

My biggest goal is to produce work that is of high gallery standard, that sells well!"

Art Practice

"I work with of clay.  Wheel, slab, coil. Texture, decorations.   I also teach small groups.  

"Would love to make mixed media pieces."

"Expressive, colourful, with texture. Painterly. Decorative and or functional. My forms are my 3 d canvas which is just a starting point for me to decorate."

"My work is varied but I hope distinctive enough so it is recognisable as both original and my own. Not stagnant but continually evolving."

"My influences are ancient forms and artifacts, fabrics, patterns, nature, whatever captures my eye."

"I admire, Grayson Perry, he is a potter and a textile artist , not afraid of being different.  Picasso, love his ceramics and his art.  Matisse. Van Gogh.  Frida Kahlo.  Rita Angus."

"Success for me is that people value and appreciate my work enough to allow me to make a living from it!"

My favourite quote is from Pablo Picasso. ‘Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.’ Also ‘There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun’.

In the future

Keep on making beautiful pottery, exhibit at major exhibitions.




Rebecca Neal