The other potters arrive around the same time and we set to the task of unpacking the work and setting up the exhibition. Several of the gallery committee members show us the ropes and help us get organised. Each potter has one of five large glass cases to display the work, and we joke and laugh as the exhibition starts to take shape.
|Akiko Tao's display
|Akihiko Ishijima setting up his display
|A spectator sport! I watch Tomoo Hamada in action setting up his display.
|Tomoo's work on the carpet
|Ken Matsuzaki making his speech.
|The Mayor of Mashiko, Tomoyuki Ohtsuka, with Hamada, me and Ishijima.
I would like to thank the historic Tokyo American Club for opening the Mashiko Potters Recovery Exhibition today.
As you all know, Mashiko was severely damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March of last year, but with the support of the international community Mashiko is gradually recovering. Supporting exhibitions such as this is a great encouragement for the recovery of Mashiko. As representative of the town of Mashiko, I offer our sincere gratitude.
Cultural power is the power to create something, is it not? I believe in the cultural power that Shoji Hamada and the potters who followed him have nurtured in Mashiko. It is fair to say that the work of the potters introduced here today (at the Frederick Harris Gallery) is the fruition of that cultural power.
I would like to introduce the 5 Mashiko potters introduced here today.
It is said that Japanese pottery is firing first, clay second and craftsmanship third, and Ken Matsuzaki’s pottery, of course skilfully crafted, incorporates the merit of the Oriental Noborigama climbing kiln and Anagama tunnel kiln through his personal wood firing process, to create vessels which could only be made by Ken Matsuzaki’s hand.
Tomoo Hamada is, as I’m sure you all know, the grandson of the potter Shoji Hamada, but, while using Mashiko clay, Mashiko glazes, and firing in a Noborigama to preserve the Hamada tradition, without copying the work of Shoji, is creating the next generation of Hamada pottery.
Then there is Akihiko Ishijima who, in the functional pottery town of Mashiko, rather than functional work, creates works which appear to be three dimensional vessels trapped in two dimensions, and his expression through clay is fascinating.
The pottery of Euan Craig, who studied in Mashiko, with an Australian sensibility and a Japanese spirit, creates ceramic art which combines both beauty and function in pottery for use.
And recently the world of pottery has seen the advance of women, and Mashiko has nurtured many female potters. Akiko Tao, a lady potter, uses the now rare kick wheel to produce her fresh and powerful vessels.
The work of all of these artists is rich with the fragrance of Mashiko, and I’m sure they will bring pleasure to you all.
In closing, I would like to express my deep thanks to everyone at the Tokyo American Club Frederick Harris Gallery and all those involved in bringing about this exhibition."
He calls me to his side and puts his arm around my shoulder as he speaks of me to the guests. "An Australian sensibility and a Japanese spirit," he says, then looks at me, gripping my shoulder stronger. "A Japanese spirit," he repeats...
I am proud and humble to be a part of this exhibition. Even though I do not live in Mashiko now, it will always be a part of me.