Playing the Coquette やきものの媚態 : Sea-Shell Wadding

Many wood-fire potters have fallen into this pit. Even well-known potters are putting big shells on the side of pots and packing them sideways in their kilns. It seems to be trendy things to do among wood-firers outside Japan. And some potters packing their bowls upside-down on the shelves making natural ash to form drips.
I accept the ideas of putting them sideways and upside-down, if it is the last solution of kiln packing problems. But I see too many are fired after this manner. Showing shell-marks and drips, they are proudly displayed in the galleries. Do they think those non-functional features beautiful? Showing backside of the pots or showing your arse of your pots – Is it healthy? I see mediaeval pots by anonymous potters are much healthier and most beautiful than modern studio pots.
This must be the result of misinterpretation from Japanese concept for accidental beauty of wood-fired pots.
Most westerners think that it is Zen. This is another pit they fall into.


お久し振りです。
勝手に決めた冬眠にも飽き、三月中頃からまた森(隠者の森)での穴窯活動を再開しました。それまでは冬の寒さにめげてしまい日々の買い物以外は出不精になり、記憶に残る外出はたった二つのプリヴューだけっだったような気がします。ひとつは2月22日にケンブリッジのフィッツウィルアム博物館に招待を受け、新しくコレクションに加えられた根付展のオープニングに行ってきました。新収蔵品500点内の半分ほどの展示だそうでした。ディスプレー・ケースも小さな根付のために特別にデザインされたものと思われます。(ちなみに『根付』展は五月末までだそうです。これは一見の価値有りです。)そして、もうひとつは、3月13日の土曜日の夕刻、長年の友人であるスヴェン・バイヤー/Svend Bayer の最近作を観に、観光地としても名高いバースにあるギャラリーまで出掛けました。
このギャラリー知名度のある割には、やきもののディスプレーは一言で言ってお粗末の限りでした。ほとんどのスヴェン/Svend Bayer の作品は、壁に掘り込まれたアルコーブの棚に並べられ、その上、小さな防犯器が壺の裏側や鉢の中に置かれていて、見苦しいこと。
また、これは作家自身にも責任の有ることなのですが、近年の欧米の薪窯作家の傾向として、用もなく大きな貝殻の目跡を誇張した大壺や大皿と、抹茶碗を伏せ焼きし大量の自然釉が碗の縁(ふち)から垂れるのを喜んでいるようです。何と安易で愚かな発想なのでしょう。
そのような作品だらけのギャラリーの中にいると、まるで裸同然に背中やお尻を露出し、媚態をつくる婦人ばかりでごった返しているパーティー会場にいる錯覚に襲われます。そうでもして顧客に愛想を振り撒かなければ、やきものが売れない御時勢なのでしょうか。

About Gas

Hi, I am a wood-fire potter, living and working in the Japanese tradition in Tring, Hertfordshire (UK). Following mediaeval potter's wisdom, I design and build simple wood-fired kilns called 'anagama' for long period of firing and 'raku-gama' for quick (glazed tea bowl) firing. My anagama firing usually takes 9 - 10 days.
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5 Responses to Playing the Coquette やきものの媚態 : Sea-Shell Wadding

  1. togeii says:

    Hello Gas,
    Very interesting blog and site.
    I will come back and read your new entries.
    Dave

  2. Bravo! Finally someone who speaks out about the seashells! About 10 years ago I got back into pottery after a 15 year hiatus and I began to see all these seashell imprints on the sides of pots. It seemed to strike some sort of raw nerve in me – it struck me as very out of place – most of these potteries were not even near the sea. I could see that in Japan where many are close to the sea that using these as wadding would be appropriate as use of local materials. However I must admit that after 10 years of looking at these type of pots I am beginning to like them, though sideways drips still do not look natural to me and do rarely seem to do anything for the form of the pot.
    Eva

  3. John B says:

    I think I know what you mean and partly agree with you. But I am definitely guilty of firing pots on the side resting on shells, and of firing things upside down (though that is my mortars – for mortar and pestles – which need to be upside down to keep the grinding surface glaze-free and rough. I do very much like the wadding flashing marks that come from firing upside down though!

    I never thought it was Zen – I doubt anything about my making comes near to Zen… I think the problem can be a misplaced idea of Japaneseness in non Japanese potters. At shows people often say my pots are quite Japanese, and I always say they aren’t – because they aren’t! I’m English (mostly) so I make English pots. The idea of the kiln type (that I’ve done horrible things to) comes from Japan, but the pots (I hope) are mine.

  4. togeii says:

    Gas,
    Many Japanese potters do it too. It is an aesthetic choice and I can’t think of any potters here in Japan that do it out of need.
    Dave

  5. porlspots says:

    hi gas
    its paul from manchester (you gave me some good advice about kiln building a few months ago )
    I hope you recovered from your cold
    I enjoyed this comment about sea shells. I nearly fell into the trap! so you saved me! I am just trying to make beautiful wares that are real, useful, honest about my influences and inspirations, but not be plagiaristic or orientalist. its a lot to ask from a form consisting 2 elipses and 2 straight lines! but i continue to search for forms that say what i feel to express, but without ego in the form.
    thank you for your work and words
    porl

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