26th May – 21st June 2024


M A R T H A    H O L M E S    &    A K I K O   H I R A I





M A R T H A   H O L M E S

‘ St Ives & the Studio ‘


“This new series of works, painted in late spring, draws on both the soft palette of the landscape surrounding St Ives, alongside the warmer, richer hues found within compositions in the studio. Days spent at the beach hut on Porthgwidden, documenting the shift between the seasons and longer, lighter days, form the basis of the series. The bright greens of The Island are paired with the vivid blues and soft whites of Porthmeor. Created on both board and linen, these paintings have a sense of immediacy to them and capture the rawness of Penwith and the delicate changes in colour that move through the landscape.

Alongside the landscape, my studio interior has become subject matter for a new series of paintings, initially informed by time spent at Porthmeor Studios last summer. With a direct view of Porthmeor from my studio window, this time allowed for the exploration of layers of internal space before the vista of the external landscape. Jugs of seasonal blooms, bowls of lemons, handbuilt vessels, and previous paintings leant on surfaces, created a language of colour and shape with a feeling of the elemental space beyond. These two elements, ‘St Ives’ and ‘The Studio’, form my latest collection for the New Craftsman”.

Martha Holmes, May 2024


View Martha’s collection here







A K I K O   H I R A I

‘ Onnagata ‘


“It has been almost thirty years since I came to England. I have grown to become a Japanese person living in the multicultural environment of London. My pots are sometimes described as ‘Japanese’, but to be honest my impressions of Japanese pots are as foreign as foreigners imagining Japanese pots. Japanese craftsmanship has many strict rules, and I did not learn those, but because I spent my childhood and youth in Japan, my aesthetic and my way of seeing has been educated by a Japanese environment and so I naturally chose the ‘Japanese style’ as my preference. 

In Japanese Kabuki theatre, male actors play the female roles. They are called onnagata. Onnagata are more feminine than real women. The image of the onnagata is thought to be a male idealisation of the female figure, though perhaps the concept of an idealised male or female figure no longer exists, because we now recognize so many genders. My pot making could be considered similar to onnagata. I take references from Asian antique ware, and sometimes Palaeolithic and Neolithic pottery worldwide. Tea ware, jars and bowls are my favourites, but finding something really special takes effort, even when I am in Japan. I have a strong admiration for the wonky pots created by anonymous potters centuries ago, at a time when they were not so materialistic, and not so very prosperous either. Life at that time would not have been easy or comfortable, so the beauty I find in these objects may just be an illusion, an idealised beauty.

I started making sake bottles for this exhibition, after previous experiments, with irregular textures on their surfaces. It might be wrong to describe them as ‘textures’ as they resemble paint peeled off by long exposure to sunlight, where the rust proof paint underneath is partly exposed, more like a deterioration. This is what I wanted on my pots. These pots have been fired several times to make the glaze richer where the white slip has peeled off. All this is still in the experimental stage. Inside of me I have a vague image of my ideal pot, a mixture of pots I imagine and the accumulation of my everyday experiences. This is how my illusional pots are made. This ideal pot is made out of chaos. Unpredictability and chaos, though, are not synonyms, as chaos is deterministic. I have read many books about the function of emotions. I still don’t know what emotions are, but it seems to me that emotions regulate chaos, giving direction to the physical phenomena that are found in chaos. When physical things and emotions are combined, two or more apparently irrelevant things are joined together and move towards something more stable. The creation of new artefacts and art are the byproduct of this process”. Akiko Hirai, 2024

Akiko’s work will be available to view and purchase in the gallery from 26th of May, and then also online from 28th May.


View Akikos’s collection here on 28th May