Aotea Artist in Residence Jaime Jenkins

“There is so much to be inspired by here.”

I warn ceramicist Jaime Jenkins I’m a philistine, so she won’t be dismayed by my lowbrow opening
salvo: what is it that you do?

“That is a very broad question! I make work predominantly with ceramics, and sculptural pieces. I
really enjoy hand-building and making pieces that range from large, floor based, sometimes-semi-
functional/could-be-furniture pieces to more delicate hanging pieces … all sorts of things. I’m
interested in the balance of heavier, solid pieces and more fragile, light pieces.”

Jaime, 31, is the 2023 AoteaOra Artist in Residence, which means she gets to spend a month at
Sandy Callister’s house on Sandhills Road, absorbing the island and letting it seep into her work. I
spoke with her about halfway through her stay.

“I’ve had a really amazing time. Just being here; you go from the busyness of life, and it’s very still.

It’s been a good time to both reflect and to think forward. Some days I’ve gone over to work and
spend time with Sarah [Harrison], but mostly I’ve just been here working, in different places around
the house, depending on the weather.”

Work has been punctuated by swims, walks, snorkelling, stargazing and free dive lessons with the
neighbour. “The snorkelling’s been beautiful; we saw these incredible longtailed stingrays There is
just so much beautiful nature to be inspired by.”

Next highly technical question- why do you do what you do? “I have always loved creating. I think it’s
how I express myself, how I work through things, make sense of things, process things …it’s how I
breathe out.”

Jaime working away at Sandy’s place in Medlands

Jaime grew up in Matapihi, a small peninsula at the start of the Mt Maunganui peninsula. “It was
quite rural; I grew up on a kiwifruit orchard, and I had a lot of time outside. I was always building
huts, and I spent all my days doing projects outside.”

She was homeschooled, then at age 17 attended a local polytech, where the head of department
was a ceramicist. “He helped me go to a summer school and got me interested in ceramics; he was
spending time at Driving Creek with Barry Brickell in the Coromandel.”

Fast forward to 2023 and she has a Diploma of Visual Art, a studio in Tauranga, several internships
and exhibitions under her belt, and work in the Te Papa collection.

How did she end up on Sandhills Road? “Sandy had come to some of my exhibitions [in Auckland]
and contacted me. I was definitely in; I was very excited. I love this island.” She’d been here before –
regularly to a family friend’s bach as a child and later to help Sarah with wood firing, and spend a
month working from Nova Paul’s property in Awana.

The residency has compounded her love for Aotea. “The community has been so lovely and welcoming.”

“It’s been really nice to get to know people on the island.”

“I had thought it would be quite an isolated residency, but lots of people pop by.”

” Everyone has been really generous, and helpful. I’ve felt really at home.”

Jaimie will complete several works while she’s here and is considering exhibiting them back where it
all started – in Sandy’s front room. Just an idea at this stage, but keep an eye out for your chance to
see her work later this summer.

Word by Kathy Cumming. Originally published in the Barrier Bulletin Issue 877.