Tatyanna Meharry, otherwise known as the Busy Finch lives locally, a ceramicist whose work is found in galleries and stores throughout New Zealand.
She has also teamed up with the Risingholme Community Education Centre and The Otago Polytechnic Long Distance Program to deliver a variety of ceramic learning options.
Art is in Tatyanna’s blood, living on the same property and growing up with her grandmother, the iconic New Zealand artist Doris Lusk. In addition to her painting career, Lusk was also a pioneer potter in New Zealand. She was introduced to modelling with clay by Field while at art school, which ignited her interest in the medium. She made her ceramics largely under her married name, Doris Holland, most of it in earthenware.
In 1947 she too was teaching pottery at Risingholme Community Centre and continued there until 1967. She was president of the Canterbury Potters’ Association from 1970 to 1972. In 1970 she was awarded a travel scholarship by the Canterbury Society of Arts and used this to research contemporary Australian ceramics in Canberra, Adelaide, Alice Springs and Melbourne.
Childhood memories that we recall as adults often with familiar sounds or smells, affected Tatyanna after her Grandmother had passed. The earthy and well spread, dusty smell of ceramics, wet and dry clay was a trigger for Tatyanna remembering her grandmother. It wasn’t until some years later, Tatyanna overcame the sadness of this memory turning it into a positive notion and soon became hooked in making her own ceramics and now uses childhood memories and activities from her childhood and time, spent with her grandmother as part of the inspiration behind subject matter she creates such as the ice-creams.
Doris Lusk would take her Grandchildren for an outing, to finding locations to sit, draw and paint while bargaining with her Grandchildren to behave, awarding those that did with an ice cream afterwards.
”What inspires me as a maker is the materiality and exploration of different themes that I get to do every day in my studio.” Meharry’s pieces are made with purpose, creating connections between her and her customers.
”The challenge of creating purposefully always drives me, whether it is a cup that has just the perfect comfortable thumbprint in it, dipped in slip with your perfect beach sand through it, to grind your morning coffee or making sparkly glass-studded wall-hung ice creams that make you giggle with a sense of sneaky calorie-free indulgence – it is pretty cool to give a little purpose and sneak into people’s everyday rituals.”
Under her brand The Busy Finch, she creates domestic ware pots. Each ceramic pot is made by hand, using local materials in a variety of different forms and functions.
Most of the time, Meharry can be found working in her studio, in the heart of Christchurch City. But it was a lack of access to this studio that led her to WOW.
”When the earthquakes happened in Christchurch my newly – opened creative school was stuck in the middle of the red zone, which left me with a bit of time on my hands. A good friend of mine approached me and suggested that we enter together.”
Meharry drew inspiration from her own experience with the Canterbury Earthquakes, telling her story through wearable art.
Meharry and friend Bronwyn Knutson went on to make a piece titled Kotuku: Broken Requiem to memorialise all the lives that had been lost.
”We made hundreds of white ceramic feathers and sewed long cream silk organza pockets to hold them in to symbolise the way that in Maori mythology the kotuku traverses between the land of the living and the dead to bear up the spirits of the departed.”
She loved the process of creating the piece and experiencing her art being brought to life on stage at the 2012 World of Wearable Art Awards in Wellington.
In 2013, Meharry entered a WOW partnership with her sister Natasha English and they won their first Supreme Award.
Tatyanna continues to create both interesting, large installations and daily domestic ware, which is also used in the Pegasus Bay Restaurant.