For Brick Bay, Peter Lange has created a work that is redolent of the old settler's cottage, long since destroyed and now known only by the sole remaining remnant of the original edifice, the brick chimney piece. In Last Man Standing Lange has personalized the chimney by adding tiny limbs, transforming it into an anthropomorphic figurative piece. For the children he has incorporated mysterious passages, little tunnels and staircases that youngsters can peer into.
Peter Lange’s work is always informed by fun. His asserts that his claim to fame is that in 2002 he built the world’s first brick boat – 6 metres long and weighing two tonnes - and it floated! His place in the history of art in New Zealand is actually far more significant. In the 1970s Peter Lange’s name was synonymous with the establishment of pottery as a viable art form in New Zealand. Since then he has exhibited and taught internationally and is currently the recipient of a Creative New Zealand Craft Object Fellowship. The work that won the Portage Ceramic Award in 2006 was Lange’s brick Lilo.
Brick is Peter Lange’s trademark material. This interest arose out of building kilns in brick for his pottery. Now he explores the potential of brick as an art material, firing some himself, cutting others into a variety of shapes, curves and arches then gluing them together with epoxy mortar.
Lange’s sculpture can be likened to that of Picasso in his mixing of ‘the ordinary’ with the concept of ‘fine art’. He ‘elevates’ everyday items. His works are a loose assemblage of things that have some connection with his life. He has made a bell, a basket, dodgem, a ‘paper’ dart, a tent – all in brick. Nor does he respect the traditional hierarchy of materials. Peter Lange makes ceramic works on a scale that is historically the domain of marble, bronze and steel. With a wry smile one realizes he has broken unwritten laws. In the company of the greatest art – Lange’s work pushes the boundaries, not in a heavy, intellectual manner but in an enduringly more successful way, with humour.
Dr Robin Woodward