Wednesday, August 21, 2013


If you stop and think about the Mino potter, Toyoba Seiya (b. 1942), a wide variety of styles come to mind; from earthy kohiki wares, Oribe, Shino of various styles, Ki-Seto and even Seto-guro. What may come as a surprise is the yakishime style that he makes which includes both Bizen and Shigaraki pottery. Having maintained a long apprenticeship under Arakawa Toyozo which lasted 14 years, it was not until 1974 that he went on to build his own studio and kiln at the foot of his master's studio. It was only natural that he would take the styles he studied to hand and ply his craft around the variety of Mino tradition potteries at which his master was so adept. Like a fellow apprentice, Tsukigata Nahiko, Toyoba was exposed to the fullest variety of work that Arakawa created and this also became ingrained in his psyche. Once he set up his own studio, it was time to explore the vast array of clay in his own voice and for some, it is the unexpected that best suits one's true temperament.
Toyoba Seiya continues to create works in a wide variety of styles and from time to time also fires Bizen and Shigaraki pots in his wood kiln, presumably nearest to the fire-mouth to encourage natural ash (shizen-yu) build up on the pieces. Illustrated is a rather lovely Shigaraki chawan by Toyoba that has been streamlined in form, the vagaries and superfluous details shed to let the form, clay and fired surface communicate without any boundaries or impediments. Surveying the well ash coated form, over the lip and into the bowl, there is an luscious pool of green glass that collected leaving tell-tale clues as to how the pot was fired. This clearly is one of those chawan that would have been equally at home in the early Edo Period or a modern tea room of the 21st century.
"There is nothing special about making ceramics. That is why it's so difficult." Toyoba Seiya

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