James Greig was born in Stratford in 1936. In 1959, while studying architecture at Auckland University, he saw and was captivated by the pots of Len Castle. He joined Len’s evening classes and by 1962 he had married Rhondda Gillies and moved to Mangakaramea, Northland to become a full-time potter.
Between 1964 and 1967 he was Resident Potter in charge of the Art and Design Centre Pottery Studio at Massey University, Palmerston North, conducting courses and summer schools.
The family moved to Matarawa, Wairarapa in 1968. In 1978 he visited Japan for the first time, returning in 1982-1983 as a Japan Foundation Fellow to research the work of Kanjiro Kawai.
In 1982 a major survey of his work, Transformations, was shown at the Wellington City Art Gallery and he was the first foreign potter to have an exhibition at the prestigious Akasaka Green Gallery, Tokyo in 1983. He showed there again in 1985.
In 1986, soon after he was appointed as a New Zealand Cultural Ambassador, he was in Kyoto for an exhibition at the Tachikichi Gallery. He died from heart failure the morning the exhibition was to open.
James’ work is held in major Museums and Art Galleries throughout New Zealand and many collections around the world including the UN Headquarters, New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.