Akiko Hirai studied ceramics at the University of Westminster and Central St. Martins. Creating richly textured, functional pottery, she follows the traditional Japanese method of letting the quality of her clays direct her work, in a conscious development of the interaction between object and maker. This new collection includes large vessels, plates, vases and domestic pieces such bowls, cups, tea-pots, bottes and plates.
White, Pale Blue and Grey
"My plates are the highlight of this exhibition. These are originally planned to be ready for Ceramic Art London a few month ago. I did try it on the different piece in the past but I wanted to try on the thinner piece. The idea of filling crack with powder steel causes so much troubles. I had to throw many plates away in the process. One piece was cracked in half in the second glaze firing and I mended with the steel. "Mending" is not really the right word. I rejoined it with melted steel in the firing. It is one of my favourite. Actually I like all six of these as a group. Clazing created by the slip on the surface is so much noisier than my usual fossil plates but these newly mixed wood ash glazes made them look milder and gentle. They have their own language. I feel as if I am reading them.
A good potter friend of mine Antje Ernestus, who makes beautiful porcelain work, generously gave me big bags of wood ash in the past and also quite recently. I was able to mix two different types of wood ash glazes from it. One is green and the other one was pale blue. I just love the tone of these glazes and they are quickly disappearing from my glaze buckets. (This batch was from her previous supply, once it is finished, I cannot have the same...).
The work is created mostly spontaneously and it involves a lot of improvisation, however it is not a random act. Learning information from the experience and also from the purposeful study, the knowledge have to be absorbed and digested until you do not consciously think of it. At the point of making, so many things coming into my mind but I am not aware of it. When the pieces come out of the kiln, I can explain how I made it happen and why I did it. I might be possessed. By whom or by what? God only knows. Perhaps by myself."
AKIKO HIRAI, May 2018