by Roy Ananda
Born in Melbourne in 1968, Adrian Potter is a conceptual artist and product designer who makes work that most often happens to take the form of furniture. Potter is also recognized for his public art, examples of which are to be seen in and around Adelaide. Adrian Potter works in the borderlands of craft, design, sculpture and conceptual art, creating work that defies rigid categorization. This raises questions about what furniture—and works of art—can be.
A meticulous craftsman, with a background in mechanical engineering, Potter began making furniture after producing a series of guitars early in his career (1988–1990). Based on the elegant geometry of vintage harp guitars, these musical instruments are precursors of Potter’s later, more ambitious woodwork and furniture. In his more recent work he seems to be conducting a dialogue between form, function and concept.
While making guitars Potter happened upon a book entitled A Cabinet Maker’s Notebook, by James Krenov. This book, which posited the idea that fine craft could be a way of life, influenced Potter to the extent that he turned his back on mechanical engineering as a career. “Feeling like an imposter as an engineer”, reveals Potter, “and loving working with my hands as I do, coming across Krenov’s book was for me the right thing at the right time”.
This defining moment led, indirectly, to Adrian Potter’s studies at the Canberra School of Art Wood Workshop (1993–94), under the late George Ingham, who was to become his most important mentor. Ingham’s successor, Rodney Hayward, who still runs the Wood Workshop at the Canberra School of Art, has also influenced and supported Potter’s career path in myriad ways.
Adrian Potter is a courageous thinker. This is borne out in the furniture that he makes. While not narrowly politically affiliated, Potter’s thinking has been permeated by certain major paradigm shifts that have occurred in the collective Australian psyche during his lifetime. One of these shifts is that Australians now “value the Australian landscape for its own sake over and above economic or land development”. In turn, these profound, positive social changes (as Potter sees them) exert a very real influence on the furniture that he is making today, in terms of the thought processes and ideas that inform his work, and its material presence. In many respects Potter’s furniture reflects the tempo
of our times.
Written by Adrian Potter 2010
In my creative practice I work with my hands and my mind, either alone is not enough.
Like many practising artists, I wear many hats. While I see myself primarily as a furniture designer and maker, I am, or have been, active as a product designer, public/community artist, teacher and musician.
I enjoy playing with themes and ideas – it gives the pieces depth and meaning.
I am especially interested in working with visual markers that represent important points in the cultural and social landscape in Australia.