A lot has changed as far as the needs of ceramics. We have cheap and plentiful, but mostly soulless, daily use pottery. I think that because we have so much mass produced ware that it has given us a desire and a fantastic opportunity to breathe new life into ceramics. We are a connected world but we are so often missing those intimate connections. What is more intimate than a cup or a bowl and an offering of food or drink to a friend or a family member?
It occurred to me, a while back, that eating together is a very intimate act. Eating with a stranger is a primal and meaningful act that allows people to come together. You learn a lot just by partaking in this simple action and the inevitable conversation that comes with it.
Using a cup or bowl also involves the maker. If you drink from a cup made by someone you know, they are with you in a way. Even if you dont know the maker personally you know that the intention is there. If it is an honest vessel it comes not only with the clay and glaze but also with the intention of that connection. Clay is a way to connect with your fellow human beings in a way that no other medium allows you to achieve.
Here is a man who boldly works on his own terms. With his own two hands he built his own compound, not just a house, but 4 buildings, one of which is purposed as a place to view the moon. It says something about Shiro that he spent the time and energy to build something dedicated to watching the moon and I dont know who wouldnt envy having one of their own.
As far as getting along in the art world, he does not enter any competitions and says that the critics can go to hell. Bravo! It’s not about pleasing the critics. With any type of work it is best to do the work for yourself first, to the best of your abilities, and then see what the world thinks.
It is unusual that he was not a Deshi (apprentice) under any Sensei (master) during the time he was learning. I myself felt cheated at a younger age when I learned of this system of learning. However I quickly learned that the entire world is full of masters at anything you care to learn about. Shiro became a potter at the age of 22 and had his first solo show by 30 which was hosted at his own residence. His knowledge traverses the range of styles that Japan is known for: Shigaraki, Iga, Shino, Kohiki (Beautiful Style), Ido, Oku-Korai, Kuro Oribe (Black Oribe) and Setoguro.
His black chawan in any style are very impressive and for one of his solo shows it was said that he made 500 teabowls in 3 months. In the documentary above he says that on a busy day he can throw 800 tea bowls or 1000 teacups. Because of the wide range of work he is producing, technical skill and probably in part due to his nonchalant demeanor, he has gained fame. There is more information on Mr. Tsujimura here at Artsy & E-Yakimono.
Here are some of his works.
(Special thanks to http://artsy.net for the use of these images. There are many more wonderful artists and works to view on their site)
A new porcelain bowl. I’m experimenting with a new kodai (foot ring) form, that gently dips downward towards the bottom creating a concave section and a foot that tapers to a softened point. It has taken longer and presented new challenges with this bowl because I shaped the form to completion outwardly. I cannot carve the outside further. I think the end result is worth the technical “challenge” (if you can call it that). I guess it’s less a challenge than just an order of operations thing. You just complete the outside first and I’m used to leaving the outside mostly unfinished and forming for the interior.