Elizabeth Lissaman was the first of our pottery pioneers. She began making pots years before Briar Gardner and Olive Jones and for seventy years her work showed a development of style that paid no attention to the fads and fashions that have come (and gone) during those years.
When Elizabeth began making pots in 1920 there were no books or easily accessed information in New Zealand. She spent some time in Sydney gaining valuable knowledge in 1923, and in 1924 built a kiln at her parents’ farm in Seddon, Marlborough. She always worked with earthenware, usually terracotta and many of her pots were vehicles for paintings. The inspiration for her designs were flora and fauna evoking a distinctly New Zealand flavour.
In 1930 she married Henry Hall, a farmer, and during the 1930s depression she helped sustain the farm with the sale of her pots. When a sheep was worth sixpence, her pots were selling for between one shilling and sixpence and twelve shillings and sixpence.
In 1969 she wrote the book, Pottery for Pleasure, which was reprinted numerous times. She was made a life member of the New Zealand Society of Potters in 1965 and in 1982 she was awarded and OBE.
Her last firing was in 1990 and in 1991 I curated a survey exhibition at the Bath-House Museum, Rotorua. She died four months before the exhibition opened at the age of 89.