Modern ceramic dog links to past

Collections manager Anne Harlow arranges Seated Dog by Jim Cooper in pride of place at Tuhura...
Collections manager Anne Harlow arranges Seated Dog by Jim Cooper in pride of place at Tuhura Otago Museum. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
If you think museums are just dusty relics, think again.

A cheerfully, charming ceramic dog has been recently installed at the entrance to the Southern Land Southern People gallery of Tuhura Otago Museum, greeting visitors with a whimsical sideways tilt of the head.

Seated Dog by Jim Cooper was created in 2018 and acquired by the museum the same year with the assistance of the Gollan Fund.

Curator humanities Moira White said the ceramic dog had been exhibited at the time of purchase but not since.

The sculpture had a "beguiling quality" and she was thrilled it was part of the collection.

As well as being a representation of contemporary ceramics it also connected to the past. In settler times a number of pottery works were established in the Milton area, taking advantage of local clay resources.

The dog represented an evolving story of extraction and production by artists using local materials to create something new.

"Work produced from and within Otago. It is obviously this dreamy, green dog, but it is also standing in for that history of Otago ceramics."

Cooper’s reputation as a ceramicist was so well established and well deserved that it was easy to make the case why it would benefit the collection to include one of his works, she said.

"We try very much to keep contemporary aspects of the collection going."

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