Bethlehem Pottery Club is an incorporated society which has been operating since 1975. The club members are like-minded creative people who share a space and love working with clay. Many of our members are award-winning ceramic artists.
The studio is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays for daytime club sessions where our members support others to learn new skills and techniques. Evening classes are run throughout the year.
About the mural
In February 1995 work began on a mural, Bethlehem, for the Bethlehem Pottery Club, depicting scenes and landscapes of the Bay of Plenty. It was designed by Shirley Sparks and involved 30 members of the club working on 154 separate tiles from 100kg of clay.
Built in five sections, each team of potters attended two day-long workshops to make and decorate the tiles. Familiar landmarks include the Wairoa River (left), Matakana Island and The Mount (top right), as well as deliberately misplaced geographic landmarks such as Te Puna Quarry. Images of agriculture, horticulture, fishing and boating depict local activities.
The changing pattern of Bethlehem’s settlement is symbolised by the different houses, including the wharenui near the centre, which references the strength of the Māori community. The pottery studio and Wairoa Rd wood kiln can also be seen in the mural.
Conceived and carried out as a collective project, Bethlehem is a celebration of ceramics and acquired new skills, and demonstrates the delight of the makers in their work. It was unveiled on 9 November 1995.
How we began
In the 1960s pottery was well underway in Tauranga and several full-time potters lived locally. In 1965 a group of potting enthusiasts met regularly at the art room of the newly established Otumoetai College and formed the Tauranga Pottery Club.
Membership soon reached 50. By the mid-70s when pottery was popular and evening classes were constantly full, two friends began a pottery group at Bethlehem Primary School in 1975, borrowing films from the National Library to increase their knowledge and hone skills.
The Bethlehem Pottery Club became an incorporated society in 1979, and by 1980 was able to lease Bethlehem Primary School’s old schoolmaster’s house in Carmichael Road. After many years of fundraising and working bees, the current purpose-built studio on Bethlehem Rd was complete and in February 1991 the club moved in. The building was officially opened in September that year.
We are hugely grateful to our founding members and everyone who has helped build the club over the years. As a result of their significant time, effort, determination and tireless fundraising, we now have the use of excellent clubrooms and an extensive range of equipment.
We play an active role in our community offering classes, workshops and team building for community groups, as well as providing firing services in our kilns on behalf of other groups and organisations.
Our club aims to hold an annual club exhibition and at least one other event during the year. We also have a gallery at the club where members display and sell their work.
The club is led by a team of 10 committee members who are elected at the AGM. These are all voluntary positions. The committee is assisted by numerous other members who help to run the club, including the firing team, exhibition team, class tutors and assistant tutors, as well as members who help with the glaze room, repairs and maintenance, library and gallery, clay stocks, website and content writing.
President: Lynda Vice-president: Amanda
Treasurer: Helen Secretary: Michelle
Committee: Chevy, Helen, Helga, Ruth, Jules, Cat