Real Life

My space: Louise Rive

Premier Portage Award winner Lousie Rive, gives thanks for her unique work-space.

Thirty-four years ago, Auckland artists Louise Rive and her husband Chuck Joseph set up Edge City, a studio-cum-gallery in an angular corner store that was once home to an Elliot’s Four Square in Westmere. When Rive won the Premier Portage Award – the country’s top ceramic honour – in November, she gave thanks yet again for their unique workspace.
Leaving behind rural life in Hikurangi in the early 80s, Rive and Joseph bought the only Auckland building they could afford at the time. Intent on both making their core livings as ceramicists, the pair converted the shop, bought a potter’s wheel and housed their kiln in an old grain shed.
Then they moved into the classic bungalow behind it with their two young children. “It was heaven and it gave us the freedom to work outside of the traditional gallery scene,” says Rive.
Rive, who met Joseph at Auckland University, graduated from Elam with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking and painting. Working with clay came later.
For her winning Portage piece, “The Space Between”, Rive treated her fired-clay sculpture as a three-dimensional painting. The bust of a woman, dressed in pale-yellow florals, makes evocative eye contact with a small, fully-formed version of herself, clasped in her disembodied hand. “It’s inspired by a Diane Arbus quote about the ongoing conversation with the self,” Rive explains.
In the couple’s studio, relocated five years ago to the former living room of their bungalow, glazed vessels cover every available surface and the old fireplace is filled with stacked canvases. Rive and Joseph often put the finishing touches on their pieces at the same sunlit table.
“This funny little building has enabled us to live the life we wanted,” says Rive. “I think we’ll have to be dragged out of here kicking and screaming.”
Works by the 2014 Portage Ceramic Awards winners and finalists are on long-term display at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery in Titirangi.
Words by: Nadine Rubin
Photo: Simon Young