Chester began potting in 1964 after instruction in New Zealand from Shoji Hamada, Takeichi Kawai and Michael Cardew. He has lectured, built kilns and conducted many firings in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, USA, Korea and Norway. His wood-fired pots show the effects of prolonged firing at high temperatures on raw clay surfaces, using an anagama kiln. Although the pots have a basic classical form, their individuality is present in the freedom and joy in hand making combined with the magical spontaneity of flame. Chester is a New Zealand potter now living and working in Australia.
Chester’s pots are usually wheel thrown then hand manipulated to give informality, each one formed through playful practice. Careful consideration and expertise lead to each pots placement in the kiln, which is designed to achieve a variety of surface effects by handling, placing and location to the flames and ash during firing. The raw untreated pots, or with glaze or other clay surfaces interact with the intense heat during several days of firing. The firing process requires around the clock vigil of fire stoking with wood which comes from Chester’s property. In recent times some of the clay he uses comes from his own creek bed. Chester’s surrounding landscape informs and inspires his making.
Chester usually stacks his pieces in the kiln wedging scallop shells between them. A process he developed when living near the Kaipara Harbour on a property laden with shell remains. This has the effect of not only protecting each piece from another, but leaves behind intriguing fossil like imprints and fabulous colour variations and streaks where the shell has interacted with the glaze.
Nealie has held numerous solo exhibitions in New Zealand and Australia. Participated in many group exhibitions in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Korea, China, USA, Canada, UK, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Spain and Germany.
His work is in private collections in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, USA, Canada, Germany, Denmark, England, Scotland and Norway.