Warren Tippett

Two Lives

Warren Tippett
1941 - 1994

The first part of Warren Tippett’s life began when he was born in Greymouth in 1941; and at only four years of age he was fostered to a family in Southland.

Whilst studying at Southland Technical College in Invercargill he was encouraged, in the fourth form, to take an art major by Sonia King who introduced him to clay.

In 1956 Warren became apprenticed to a sign writer, but by 1962, he had taken making pots seriously, exhibiting and attending a workshop by Bernard Leach.  He then moved to Christchurch joining Yvonne Rust’s Studio of Design.

In 1965 Shoji Hamada visited Christchurch giving workshops where Warren, Neil Grant and Mirek Smíšek were Hamada’s helpers. The following year he went to work with Barry Brickell in Coromandel and he was accepted into the New Zealand Society of Potters.

In 1971 he married Jill Pierce, and his sons were born in 1971 and 1973.  Warren and Jill were separated by 1975. When his marriage ended, he spent some time at Bethells Beach; before in 1977 moving to a property in Albany, north of Auckland, which was owned by Sheryl and Ian Smail.

The second part of Warren Tippett’s life began, when in 1979 he moved from north of Auckland to Grey Lynn to enjoy city-life. It was around 1980 he came out as a gay man. Almost at the same time his work radically changed from being high-fired stoneware to brightly coloured earthenware. This joyous change heralded an emphasis on contemporary design.

This new work was at the forefront of the change of bright colour being used by New Zealand potters.

In 1985 Warren moved to Sydney and from there in 1987 he visited Japan for the first time.  He returned to Japan in 1989 for an exhibition in the department store, Seibu in Tokyo.

Warren came back to Aotearoa New Zealand in 1992 when he was offered a residency at Carrington Polytechnic in Auckland. He stayed for two years.

Warren returned to Sydney in 1994 and died later that year.

Rick Rudd


Warren Tippett - Two Lives