- Tell me a little more about your work. How do you proceed? What are your preferences in terms of clay, firing, glazing, etc…?
Many of my works are made with Shigaraki’s terracotta. I also occasionally work with porcelain. I have used the same terracotta clay for over 13 years, as it has right viscosity and fine grainy texture. My hands have adjusted well to this terracotta over the years, which allows me to manipulate the clay naturally and almost intuitively, without particular awareness into creating a shape.
My creative process typically starts with either throwing a three-dimensional shape such as bowl or cylinder on wheel, or rolling out slabs.
I do not usually begin with a clear image of the piece that I am about to make, but only have a rough idea of the size in mind.
After meeting the random shape made on the wheel or by slabs, I gradually begin to develop a conscious image of the form I would like to achieve.
The piece would then be cut, sliced or/and joined together with other parts. I continue to explore the final form by manipulating the random shape into a more concrete one, as well as feeling and understanding the limit of the clays versatility.
During this process, emergence of a new form can result from the sliced or cut parts from the original shape. To encounter an unplanned and unpredicted form is one of the fascinating features of ceramic art.
The next process involves sculpturing the piece into a desired form. I do this by carving and scraping with a modeling tool or a saw tooth that is broken into a small workable piece for me to handle. At this stage, I would work like a sculptor.
I pursue the desired form by allowing the piece in my hands to display textural details, its thickness, volume and weight, and emerging figure.
Almost all of my pieces are bisque fired once, and then painted and glazed. I paint the piece to further develop the form, exploring and preserving the expressions and emotions that the initial wheel thrown piece radiated. This may be similar to Japanese painting methods.
I apply raw ingredients of glaze materials, such as minerals and metal oxides using a paint brush, like applying layers of paints. This is done with estimation of its colour and textural results as well as in anticipation of unexpected and incidental phenomena and effects that could emerge on the piece after firing.
The unique method that I employ involves the use of materials such as paper, fabric, cloth and string, in order to accomplish the desired textures.
I apply numerous layers of raw materials and repeat the firing process until the piece almost reaches a place where human touch seems to be long lost, and its presence becomes independent and organic. The firing temperature is about 1210 to 1230℃ in the electric kiln.
- Where did you grow up and what did you study?
I was born in Chiba and raised in Tokyo. I first started to study art, mainly drawings and paintings in high school.
I studied ceramics in the university undergraduate course which exposed me to the concept of three-dimensional, ceramic sculptural art expression, using clay as a medium. This led me to develop my style of ceramics as sculptural rather than as functional and practical, such as making everyday wares.
- You told me you work in a company on weekdays and dedicate yourself to ceramics in the evenings and on the weekends. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Upon my graduation from the university, I started to look for any available job that I could do, as I found it difficult to support myself as a full time ceramic artist. I was fortunate enough to be offered a job to make samples of leather bags in a leather product company.
I learned the skills of hand crafted bag making, and I worked there for about eight years. I moved to another Japanese leather product company about 5 years ago and am currently working as a sales person.
I have been utilising evenings and weekends for ceramics and studio exhibitions, whilst working in a company during weekdays.
For me, it is very important to explore the nature of ceramics and allowing the pieces to form themselves freely. My focus is not drawn to enable myself to work as an independent full time ceramic artist. This is why I have naturally established this life style between ceramics and daytime work as necessary.
-For you, what’s the best part of the process of ceramics? Why?
The reason that I am attracted to clay is that it makes it possible to demonstrate my natural sense in the objects that I make with my bare hands.
Many unexpected and even uncontrollable textural changes happen during the creative process, which I find fascinating.
The breadth of ceramic textural possibility and versatility maximises my creative process, embodying the view and awareness of the natural world I perceive.
- What’s the best thing about being based in Tokyo? And what’s the worst thing?
The best thing is that I have more exposures to people and places, to share and exchange art sense.
The worst things are that there is a lack experience and feel of nature, and that it is very costly to be based in Tokyo.
- Which ceramicists (of today of from the past) influence you? Where do you find inspiration?
The University granted me the privilege to meet Professor Kimpei Nakamura, who taught me expressional art using clay as medium. He was the biggest influence in pursuing my current style of sculptural ceramics.
I also had an abundance of opportunities to share the ideas of works and materials and to show experimental pieces with peers at university, which ultimately guided me to developing and establishing my own original methods.
I find inspiration from organic materials in the natural world and evidence of natural phenomena, as well as the physical experience and atmosphere that I encounter in nature.
- You dedicate yourself to a millenary craft. What does it mean to you to make each piece by hand in a world that is dominated by mass production? Is this a philosophy that appears in other aspects of your life?
My primary motive is to make sense of what I see, feel and understand in the natural world and express that in the form of ceramic objects. There is no intention of delivering a particular message to society through my work.
I am apprehensive about the matter regarding world’s economic prevalence in mass productions; however, my ceramic works are not meant to be compared and used to answer this matter.
My ceramics do not reflect my inner thoughts and feelings, and are not defined by traditional art theories or the concept of craft design. I believe that my ceramics are art pieces that are free, undisturbed and peaceful. I want people to be free to feel and interpret my works in their own way.
I feel my inner sense that are influenced by ethnicity as a Japanese is interesting, and I would like to explore it more in cooperation with my creative activity.
- What are your plans for the future?
I would like to continue to explore the natural world, and to express what I observe and experience from the natural world in a form through ceramics.