When Otautau holds its pre-Christmas open evening on Friday, there will be a new attraction on Main St.
Papakura potter Mark McClean has turned Bev Ballantyne's Cut Above hairdressing salon, a great space that was once a billiard hall, into his working studio and gallery - while Mrs Ballantyne has a purpose built salon in her garden at nearby Knutford Rd.
McClean is interested in that garden too, sourcing natural ingredients for the long, slow delicious cooking of herbs to make the food he serves taste special.
He started making pots while at University in Manchester, serving the food he cooked in the bowls he made to his flatmates.
Coming to New Zealand in 2000, he worked in the fields of graphic arts, photography and advertising while developing his interest in pottery and his BlackWinter range of functional contemporary work, beautiful but simple, following a minimalist look.
He saw the chance to move out of the city into a southern village enormously appealing given the space and the quiet he could get.
The warm welcome he has found, the helpfulness of people in the south, that's been a bonus.
With his kiln set to fire he has all he needs at hand and some peaceful places to indulge in his favourite recreation of running.
His work, handthrown and characterised by interesting colours - a blackened orange, turquoise and white, a new lilac - sells online. You can check it out at blackwinter.co.nz
- The Southland Times