Robert Rapson: Against the Tide
06 Mar – 01 Aug 2021
Against the Tide celebrates the life and work of late ceramicist Robert Rapson (1951-2020).
Best known for his delightfully idiosyncratic sculptures and encyclopedic knowledge of boats, Rapson’s work demonstrates his joyful and quirky approach to ceramics. Mostly self-taught, Rapson came to ceramics later in life after a career in civil service—embracing art making as a way to help weather the storm clouds that passed through his life.
His joyful and distinctive approach to clay caught the eye of international curators and collectors, exhibiting his work to acclaim at the New York International Outsider Art Fair and galleries in New York, LA, Paris and Sydney. He also earned recognition closer to home, winning the Molly Morpeth 3D Award in 2003, the Portage Ceramic Awards in 2013, and the Arts Access Artistic Achievement Award in 2014. However, Rapson remained largely outside the mainstream art gallery circuit, instead developing tight-knit artistic communities within the Hutt Art Society, Wellington Pottery Society, Vincent’s and Mix – an organisation which provides artistic opportunities to people experiencing mental illness.
This exhibition reflects both Rapson’s passion for ships and his position outside the artistic status quo, and also introduces audiences to his wider practice beyond his well-known boats.
Against the Tide is part of The Dowse Art Museum’s 50th Anniversary programme. It continues our long-standing commitment to ceramic arts, including recent exhibitions such as Dirty Ceramics (2019) or Slip Cast (2014). It also reflects The Dowse’s support of artists operating outside the mainstream, such as Bob Gerrard’s arks or the iconic textile art of Malcolm Harrison.