Ocean-crossing chicken one of a kind

Dunedin potter Marion Familton, with her ceramic chicken. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Dunedin potter Marion Familton, with her ceramic chicken. Photo: Peter McIntosh
This is a story about a rather large chicken, a Dunedin potter and opportunities in the United States.

The 32cm high chicken first appeared when Marion Familton attended a week-long workshop last June in Helena, Montana.

The participants - at the Archie Bray Centre for the Ceramic Arts, ''one of the leading centres for the ceramic arts in the USA'' - were asked to produce a chicken-inspired piece.

Familton's tan ''giant chicken'' was by far the biggest.

It probably helped that Familton was originally a sculptor.

''I'm a shape-maker,'' she says.

But then carrying the ''quite heavy'' ceramic chicken proved ''the killer'' on the eight connecting flights back to New Zealand, via Canada.

Well-packed in a carry-on bag, the bird survived , and ''people love it''.

Some people said she had been ''mad to travel with it'', but it had been ''hilarious'' getting through security.

As her bag went through the scanner there was often a ''double take'' from security officers: some were amused, others stony-faced.

It was at the workshop Familton also met leading utilitarian potter, Prof Julia Galloway.

Galloway invited her to take up a month-long residency at her university, the University of Montana, about 180km away, in Missoula.

Familton, a graduate in fine art at the Dunedin School of Art, will stretch her wings to travel back to Montana in March.

She has had her work displayed at the Stuart Street Potters Co-operative for more than 10 years, and the residency would help ''elaborate my ideas more fully''.

She was likely to continue making small lidded containers- but ''no giant chickens''.

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