"Ichikai", the name of the town in which we live, means "City of Shells". In this area there are some of the best fossil deposits in Japan, and the other day we went excavating with some people from the prefectural museum of natural history.
The children all participated, and we found a variety of different shells.
embedding these beautiful forms and pattern into the rock for all eternity.
As a potter, I too am trying to transform mud into stone, melting the particles together to form a new material which bears the patterns and forms which I have consciously created. By firing the kiln to 1300 Celsius I achieve in human time scales what nature does in geological time over millions of years. There is a limit to what I can do though, and I trust the forces nature to take my work beyond my limitations.
To prevent the pots from being stuck in the kiln by liquid glass from the molten, running ash I will sometimes set the pots on sea shells. I fill them with clay to prevent them from collapsing, then place the pots on top of them.In the firing some carbon dioxide will burn off from the calcium carbonate of the shells, leaving the shape of the shells intact as calcium oxide.
Even if ash runs down and sticks on the shells, the pots can be taken from the kiln with the shells attached. They can then be put into water and the calcium oxide will dissolve into sludge, leaving only the shell marks on the foot of the vessel, in this case tea bowls.
Sea shells also contain a small amount of salt, which will turn into sodium gas during the firing, giving orange flashing on the inside of the foot. The spiral left by the trimming tool on the base of the pots resonates with the spirals of sea shells, not as a conscious representation but as a natural consequence of the forming process.
It is the beauty which springs from the natural process that imbues these works with their intrinsic charm. This beauty, this art, is not pretentious nor contrived, like much representational art, nor is it bound to a specific set of aesthetics or social mores as is contemporary art and fashion. This beauty is relevant to any one who loves beauty regardless of culture or creed, in any age, and will last for all of eternity. This is "Nontemporary Art".